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No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal. A literary fiction novel alternating between the viewpoints of Harit, a shy Indian immigrant who is isolated from everyone around him, making do by working in a department store and going home to his mother, who is in such a pit of grief that she hasn't spoken a word in years; Ranjana, a much more successful Indian immigrant, both financially and socially, who nonetheless feels a bit unfulfilled and so has begun to secretly write vampire romances; and Prashant, Ranjana's son who is enjoying his first semester at Yale by chasing after various girls. Minor characters occasionally step in to take over the narration for a chapter or two, such as Teddy, Harit's flamboyantly gay middle-aged co-worker, or Harit's mother, but the main focus is on the three above.

In many ways, this is a very typical novel for its genre: lonely people bumbling through their lives, trying to understand who they are and how to interact with the culture around them. It's improved by its touches of levity and brightness, including an almost unrealistically happy ending, but it's hard not to be pleased to see these characters succeed. I absolutely adore Ranjana's vampire obsession, which feels so bizarre surrounded by the very serious-minded literary quality of the rest of the book. Though I do have to protest that Satyal does not seem to have done his research. He says, Anne Rice had as many orgasms in her books as commas, but come on, Anne Rice almost never writes explicit sex scenes. Clearly it should be Laurell K. Hamilton had as many orgasms in her books as commas, and I know he's heard of Hamilton since he name-dropped her in an earlier scene. We also get an excerpt of Ranjana's novel-in-progress at one point, and it's much more Dracula or even Nosferatu than anything from the modern paranormal romance genre. But I forgive these mistakes because awkward moms writing vampire romance is beautiful and should be in more novels about the Immigrant Experience.

Overall it's not a particularly outstanding or memorable example of what it's doing, but it's just odd enough to be worth reading, and your time will be pleasantly spent.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.


Hoodoo Harry by Joe Lansdale. A novella in the long-running Hap & Leonard series, mystery/thriller books about a pair of mismatched best friends (one a white straight ex-hippie, one a black gay conservative) in rural East Texas. In this adventure, Hap and Leonard are driving home from a fishing trip when their truck is rammed by a bookmobile driven by a terrified 12-year-old boy. Unfortunately the kid does not survive the crash, and an investigation turns up signs of torture on his body as well as the fact that he'd been missing for a week. Even stranger, the bookmobile itself had disappeared more than 15 years ago, along with the woman who drove it. From that point the adventure takes off, with an investigation, more bodies, fistfights, secret hidden rooms, and an all-out gun battle.

This is a quick read (only 76 pages) and could easily be enjoyed without knowledge of the rest of the series, though it's dark enough (as you could probably guess, when a young child dies on page one) that I'm not sure many would want to. It's funny, it's exciting, it's tense, it's basically everything Joe Lansdale always does well, just in a smaller package than usual.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.


Battles for Freedom: The Use and Abuse of American History by Eric Foner. A collection of essays previously published in The Nation about the connection between American history and contemporary issues. Foner is a well-regarded historian; though I know him best for Gateway to Freedom, his book on the Underground Railroad, he's studied and written on multiple periods and topics.

The oldest in this collection is from 1977, written for the 50th anniversary of the case and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. Foner describes the ways the men have been used as a symbol and example for multiple agendas, and how most such portrayals ignore the reality of them as individuals. It's still an interesting and useful article today. The most recent is from January of this year, 2017, and recounts Foner's experiences teaching a college course called “The Radical Tradition in America". He's taught it since the 70s, and students have understandably changed over time, from those who were trying to maintain hope during the Reagan 80s, to those energized by Obama's 2008 victory, to the last batch, influenced by Bernie Sanders's campaign. Some of the essays do feel a bit dated, such as the one from 2001 on the Patriot Act. It's still an awful law, don't get me wrong! It's just that nothing Foner says here is likely to be news to the reader.

My favorite essay was the one on Lincoln's changing views on slavery and racial equality ("Our Lincoln", 2009). Foner portrays him as ultimately a centrist, slow to change his opinion but equally capable of correcting past mistakes. It's a nice change from the black-and-white view of history (and modern people) that can sometimes take over our thinking.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.


The Golden House by Salman Rushdie. Ah, this book is fantastic! :D I mean, it's Rushdie, who's surprised, but I do think this is by far the book of his I've loved the most.

The Golden family – Nero, the patriarch, and his three adult sons, Petronius (aka Petya), Lucius Apuleius (aka Apu), and Dionysus (aka D) – are newcomers to The Gardens, a small self-contained neighborhood in New York City, like a child's dreamy ideal of pre-hipster Greenwich Village. Their names, by the way, are all fake; the family is fleeing undisclosed trauma in an unnamed country (it's obviously India, but you have to get fairly deep into the book for that to be made explicit). Each adjusts, or doesn't, to their new life in America with varying degrees of success. Petya attempts to move past his severe autism and alcoholism, Apu makes a name as a celebrity artist, and D struggles to figure out his (or her) gender identity. Nero joins the construction industry, blasts his name across buildings, and acquires a Slavic trophy wife, but it's not quite fair to call him a Trump analogue; for one thing, Nero's far too smart and self-aware, not to mention capable of regret. In fact Trump himself is occasionally mentioned in the background, though he's always referred to as 'The Joker':
To step outside that enchanted—and now tragic—cocoon was to discover that America had left reality behind and entered the comic-book universe; D.C., Suchitra said, was under attack by DC. It was the year of the Joker in Gotham and beyond. The Caped Crusader was nowhere to be seen—it was not an age of heroes—but his archrival in the purple frock coat and striped pantaloons was ubiquitous, clearly delighted to have the stage to himself and hogging the limelight with evident delight. He had seen off the Suicide Squad, his feeble competition, but he permitted a few of his inferiors to think of themselves as future members of a Joker administration. The Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face and Poison Ivy lined up behind the Joker in packed arenas, swaying like doo-wop backing singers while their leader spoke of the unrivaled beauty of white skin and red lips to adoring audiences wearing green fright wigs and chanting in unison, Ha! Ha! Ha!

All of this is narrated by René, a young man also living in the safety of The Gardens, a filmmaker with dreams of making a documentary about the Goldens, or perhaps just a movie starring a fictionalized version of them. René openly admits that he will combine characters or change backstories to fit his idea of how the story should go, which means it's always open to interpretation how much of what he's telling us is the truth.

It's a book that is bursting at the seams with stuff of all sorts: Greek myth, Roman history, Russian folklore, American politics, philosophy and melodrama, an enormous number of characters each of whom gets their own backstory, motivation, and secret thoughts, subplots and sub-subplots, dramatic revelations from the past that reappear unexpectedly, murders and fires, equal allusions Kipling and to mafia movies and the I ching, and even a secret baby. The writing is gorgeous, of course, and there's plenty to make you think, but what I was most surprised about was simply how compelling it was. I never wanted to put this book down, because I was so thrillingly engaged to find out what happened next. Just a really, really amazing book. I already want to reread it.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.


Okay, I'm all caught up with my Netgalley reviewing at least. Now I just need to write about the nine other books I've finished...

Letter from a very contented lady

Aug. 22nd, 2017 10:45 am
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Dear Mr Derringe

Your direction has been conveyed to me by way of Lady Bexbury, whose offices in the matter had been requested by Mrs Lowndes, sister of Miss Netherne – though I doubt not she is now Mrs Carter? – that so very kindly conveyed news of you.

I am entirely glad to learn that you and Mr Perry did not die of a fever in the South Seas, nor were eaten by cannibals, as some have rumoured, though I mind that you told me that the stories of man-eating were an entire figment, or at least exceeding exaggeration. I hope that you are entire recovered from the fever that brought you under Mr Carter’s care, and that your plans for a school prosper.

Dear Mr Derringe, pray do not distress yourself concerning our marriage that never came to pass: I confide that I too am by no means suited for the matrimonial state. But I assure you, I am now in quite the happiest way of life. Your very fine remarks about David and Jonathan brought to my mind that other remarkable tale of devotion in the Old Testament, that of Ruth and Naomi.

You will recall that my cousin Hester is Countess of Nuttenford – now Dowager Countess of Nuttenford, the late Earl having been fatally savaged by a bear whilst on a botanical expedition in Virginia. I became companion-chaperone to her middle daughter, Lady Emily Merrett, a very fine young woman with no inclination to marriage, while she was keeping house for her brothers, the Countess having been an invalid these many years and gone to reside with her eldest daughter, that had but lately married the Marquess of Offgrange.

The present Earl is now married to a very fine young woman, and has given over to our use one of his smaller estates, Attervale, an exceeding pretty little place if somewhat quaintly old-fashioned. There is a dovecote of considerable antiquity and I have taken to the keeping of these birds. Meanwhile, dear Em Lady Emily takes to the keeping of hawks, for there is a mews that we suppose originally intended to that purpose - as she also practices archery we might almost be took for some household of the Middle Ages.

There is a very fine orchard and we brew our own cider: dear Lady Emily’s stepfather, Sir Charles Fairleigh, was most helpful in instructing us in the matter, his own apples and their brewing being highly renowned.

Are you now acquainted with the Thornes and the Carters I confide that you are in a very good antipodean set. The Thornes’ fine humane endeavours for the unhappy convicts are very widely admired in our circles and Lady Bexbury, as I daresay they will have told you, is their benevolent patroness raising interest for them. Their scientific observations are ever attended with the greatest eagerness by savants. I like to think that you will have the opportunity of many fine games of chess with them: I ever regretted that I was by no means up to your mark in the matter.

Is there any service I may do you, I hope that you will always consider me your friend. Please convey my kindest regards to Mr Perry.

In great regard and esteem

Lalage Fenster

(no subject)

Aug. 21st, 2017 09:57 pm
skygiants: storybook page of a duck wearing a pendant, from Princess Tutu; text 'mukashi mukashi' (mukashi mukashi)
[personal profile] skygiants
A couple months ago I was talking with my roommate about the new Anne of Green Gables TV series (I have not seen it, she had opinions about it) which led to us reminiscing about Other L.M. Montgomery Books We Had Known, which led to me last weekend rereading The Story Girl and The Golden Road.

I was actually much more attached to these books than I ever was to Anne -- they're about an extended group of cousins who have very wholesome adventures together. The cousins include:

Beverly, Our Narrator, most notable for his mildly purple narration and deeply sentimental soul
Felix, his little brother, who is Fat and Sensitive About It
Felicity, who is Very Beautiful and Very Prosaic and also Extremely Bossy, like Lucy from Peanuts if she also looked like Elizabeth Taylor
Cecily, who is Very Good and Very Serious and probably also Doomed to Die Young Like Good Children Do
Dan, Felicity and Cecily's brother, who is an Annoying Brother
Sara Ray, who lives down the road and cries all the time
Peter, who is But a Hired Boy but Clever and Talented and also In Love With Felicity
and, of course, Sara Stanley the Story Girl, who is not pretty but interesting, and has a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and is prone to stopping in the middle of any given conversation to announce that she knows a story that has some vague relation to the topic at hand and will then proceed to relate that story come hell or high water, which: oh god, of course I imprinted on these books as a kid, because I of course do the exact same thing, except without any vestige of a spellbindingly beautiful voice, and also instead of 'I know a tragic story about our uncle's great-aunt's wedding' my version is usually 'I read a book once in which somebody banged a griffin.' But, much like the Story Girl, once I get started on an anecdote of this kind there is very little chance of stopping me. I apologize to anybody who has suffered from this.

ANYWAY. Fortunately, the other kids (with the occasional exception of Felicity) never get fed up with the Story Girl and are always glad to hear an entertaining anecdote about the minister's cousin's grandmother or whatever the topic of discussion is that day.

The kids also get into normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff, like pretending to be ministers, or freaking out because the local old-lady-who-might-be-a-witch sat in their pew at church, or panicking that it might be the Day of Judgment. Normal turn-of-the-century-Canadian kid stuff centers very prominently on appropriate church behavior, as it turns out. L.M. Montgomery's world is composed of Methodists and Lutherans and that's about it. I don't remember this being weird for me as an emphatically-not-Christian youth but it is slightly retroactively weird for me now.

Other notable things that happen in The Story Girl and The Golden Road:
- Dan eats poison berries because Felicity tells him he would be an idiot to eat the poison berries, nearly dies, then goes back and eats more poison berries because Felicity made the mistake of saying she told him so
- Cecily the Very Sweet and Very Good is mean to exactly one person in both books, a boy in her class who conceives a terrible crush on her and will not leave her alone despite multiple stated requests until she publicly humiliates him in class, which she ruthlessly does; a good lesson
- The Story Girl gives a great and instantly recognizable description of synesthesia without ever actually using the word
- The Story Girl befriends a desperately shy neighbor who is known as the Awkward Man, "because he is so awkward," our narrator Bev helpfully explains
- the Awkward Man is later revealed to have a secret room in his house containing women's clothing, which, the Story Girl explains, is because he's spent years buying things for an imaginary girlfriend - and, I mean, far be it from me to question the Story Girl! but some grad student could probably get a real good paper on gender and sexuality in turn-of-the-century children's lit out of this is all I'm saying
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
I am a dancer in the New York City Ballet. I wrote the pages that follow during one ballet season. I began on November 21, 1980, and finished on February 15, 1981. I was lonely; I was sad. I had decided to be alone, but I had never decided to be lonely. I started writing on a yellow pad. I wrote, and I smoked. Every page was covered with a film of smoke.

If you like that, you will like this book. It's one of those slim but pithy volumes that precisely captures a time, a place, and a state of mind.

I've always had a fascination with ballet, ever since my second-grade teacher offered a trip to see the Nutcracker Suite (it was at least ten years before I realized that the second word was not "sweet") to her top three students. I had no idea what that was, other than that it was clearly desirable, so I went all-out to make sure that I'd get the prize. I was sufficiently enchanted with The Nutcracker and the general air of specialness surrounding the entire experience that I begged my parents for ballet lessons, at which I lasted something like three sessions. I don't recall the exact problem, but based on my age I'm guessing that there was too much standing around.

After that I confined myself to reading ballet books, which was more fun that actually doing it. Had I tried when I was older, I might have stuck with it for longer. Based on Bentley book and everything else I've read about ballet dancing, it has an austere, stoic, boot camp, push your limits atmosphere that would have really appealed to me if I'd been three to five years older. And then I would have gotten my heart broken, because I am not built to be a ballerina.

Winter Season beautifully depicts the illusion shown to the audience and the reality experienced by the dancers, and how the dancers live the illusion as well. It's got all the fascinating details of any good backstage memoir, without bitterness or cynicism. Even as it ground down her body, Bentley never stopped loving ballet; she seems to feel that she was lucky to have the chance to live the dream, just for the opportunity to spend a few minutes every day being the perfect expression of her body and the choreographer's art.

Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal, with a new preface

And I will place the next bit under a cut in case you just want to read about Winter Season. As opposed to ass. Read more... )

Boston counterprotest

Aug. 20th, 2017 11:51 pm
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[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
I went to the Boston counterprotest against the so-called 'free speech' (actually Confederates and neo-Nazis) rally on Saturday for a couple of hours. The energy was good, and there were a lot of people-- the radio said maybe fifty thousand counterprotestors and fifty or so Nazis, so we may literally have outnumbered them one thousand to one. The common was about as full as it was during the Womens' March, because people weren't as spread out marching; there were areas that were elbow-to-elbow and then areas where nothing much was going on and you could walk around.

There were of course many, many signs. I took one Ruth made with a graphic we got off Twitter, one of those red barred circles that mean NO over a glyph that combines a swastika and the number 45 so you can read it both ways. The person next to me on the T on the way over was also carrying a sign, so we started talking, and it turned out, completely coincidentally, that she is presently enrolled at the small liberal arts college my wife and I both went to, which is several states away. She had come up for the occasion. It was nice to have somebody there to have my back, since none of my family could make it.

We had been worried on the train about how things would go, but there were thorough barricades and we basically couldn't even see the actual Nazi types, let alone physically interact with them. Every so often one of them would break out a Confederate flag or something like that, at which point the police would immediately confiscate it. One of them got perp-walked away while I was there, but I didn't see what for. The police presence was huge and, while I was there, generally polite to us counterprotestors, although I understand they got more annoyed later. I have to say, the sirens that bike cops use are among the silliest things I have heard in quite a while, like putting a real police siren through a filter marked 'Yakkity Sax'.

There was one dude wandering around shouting about how he wanted to [insert violence and sexual profanity] Trump and Trump's children, but everybody he came near was shouting back at him to just shut up and go home. I couldn't tell his ethnicity beyond 'not white', but he was also wearing a hat with the Washington Racists' logo-- I mean their real logo-- and the crowd was not having with that either. So it was uncomfortable when he wandered by, but the crowd very clearly was not on his side and was not going to let him harass any individual people.

The most intense things got is that somebody set fire to a swastika flag, I believe with a blowtorch. It burned very hot and fast, to intense cheers, and produced a lot of smoke, but I think it had gone out entirely by the time the cops arrived-- it had clearly been timed for when the bike patrol was circling around the other end of the Common. At any rate, I don't believe anyone was arrested in connection with that.

I am proud of my city about this one. A lot of people in the crowd were worried about violence, I was worried about violence, my train-met friend was worried, and that worry was explicitly why we had to be there. Because no. We refuse to give up when things get scary.

It was a good counterprotest.

It was a camel!

Aug. 20th, 2017 01:14 pm
rachelmanija: (It was a monkey!)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
This clip from CNN is well worth listening to.

It encapsulates both the jaw-dropping awfulness and bizarreness of the Orange Supremacist era, and the extent to which the mainstream media has gotten so appalled that they're dropping their usual false equivalency. I mean the old "both sides have a point," which works when both sides DO have a point, but does not when you're talking about Nazis vs. anti-Nazis or Cheetolini vs. human beings with empathy. Also, it made me laugh.

Yesterday post-rally [personal profile] hederahelix and I were discussing this.

"It's just so surreal," she said. "Hey... Is that a camel?"

I looked over. The U-haul next to us had a giant camel painted on the side.

Below the camel, as if in explanation of why a U-haul would be decorated with a giant camel, were a few lines of Wikipedia-esque notes on camels, something like "A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as "humps" on its back."

Cats Against Nazis

Aug. 19th, 2017 01:58 pm
rachelmanija: (Heroes: support WGA)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
The rally was fine, though quite small. I imagine there would have been a much bigger turnout if the Nazis hadn't cancelled. One of my neighbors was there!

I went with [personal profile] hederahelix. We are now heading for Clementine.

Here I am with my sign and feline fellows in resistance.



Dear FemslashEx Writer or Artist...

Aug. 16th, 2017 10:04 pm
rachelmanija: (Buffy: I kind of love you)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
ETA: I changed my sign-up several times since I posted this, so if you looked early on, look again if you're interested.

Dear FemslashEx Writer or Artist,

Thank you so much for writing for me! This is my first time doing FemslashEx, so I'm really excited.

(I only requested art for one fandom; however, if anyone is moved to do an art treat for me in any of them, I would absolutely love that.)

Loves, DNWs, and notes/prompts for my fandoms (Aliens, Carrie, Original Work, Star Trek: Classic Timeline, and X-Men comics (Marvel 616). Read more... )

(no subject)

Aug. 16th, 2017 05:42 pm
skygiants: the princes from Into the Woods, singing (agony)
[personal profile] skygiants
It's hard for me not to unfavorably compare every Isabelle Hollington Gothic to Trelawny, the one with the identical non-identical constantly-swapping twins, but The Marchington Inheritance runs a reasonable second for batshit plot resolutions.

Our Heroine is a children's book illustrator named Avril, which would be fine if she were not ALSO notable for her family reputation as a Strung-Out Sulky Counter-Culture Fight-The-Power Teen Rebel with constant Rage Against the Preppy machine, which meant that I had "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi" stuck on rotate in my head for the entire duration of this novel. THANKS, ISABELLE HOLLAND.

spoilers are full of hilariously plausibly annoying children )

UPDATE: Nazis Fuck Off Rally

Aug. 16th, 2017 10:17 am
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[personal profile] rachelmanija
Looks like the Nazi scum saw how many people planned to show up to stand up to them in LA, and ran like the cowards they are. Apparently the Venice Nazi rally has been cancelled (but Nazi rallies are still planned in other cities). But it looks like OUR rally is still on, whether the Nazis show up or not.

I will keep updating but if our rally is happening, I'll still be there. I think it's important to show our solidarity and fire. Hey, just talking about showing up chased the Nazis out of LA before they even came - let's give them crowd photos to haunt their dreams and keep them out.

News from New South Wales

Aug. 16th, 2017 08:48 am
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Dearest Lucy

It was the most delightful of pleasures to receive your letter and to hear that you had been safely delivered of a fine baby boy, that I daresay will be walking and talking by the time you receive this. What a very fine man Mr Lowndes sounds to be, I am most greatly sorry I never met him. It is immensely reassuring to me to think that you have the companionship of such an excellent lady with such wisdom in matters of maternity as Mrs Ferraby. I only hope that you do not go about to overdo, betwixt motherhood, your responsibilities towards your pupils, and your writing for Mr Lowndes’ paper.

But, indeed, I am not one to preach upon the matter, for I am quite constantly kept busy here: not only do I begin the Thornes’ dear children on the rudiments, but I continue to find a great desire for education among the convicts of our community, and a wish to have letters written by those that do not yet feel confident in writing them themselves, although there are now some few that have come on to be able to instruct their fellows. I also assist the Thornes with their observations.

And besides that, Abby Mrs Thorne and I find ourselves assisting Mr Carter in matters of nursing the sick. I do not recollect whether I wrote to you before about Mr Carter? – he came to this land in the capacity of surgeon to the scientific expedition, but has fallen so in love with the country that he has determined to stay, to collaborate with the Thornes in their scientific enterprizes, and also to run a dispensary for our people. But I daresay even I had not mentioned this to you, you would have heard somewhat of the matter from Lady Bexbury, for we have applied to her for the provision of surgical instruments, drugs, &C, that are very hard to come by here. There is not a deal of injury and disease, for we practice sound measures of hygiene, but there will always be some accidents and ailments.

Mr Carter is a most excellent man, a most adept surgeon – oh, Lucy, I try to write of him in a sober fashion, but I must tell you, that we find ourselves in a most happy condition of mutual admiration, and purpose to marry very shortly. He is the dearest of fellows, and it is no wonder that he is so greatly esteemed by Mr and Mrs Thorne. Sure I have found myself, to my astonishment and sometimes embarrassment, courted by several gentlemen in this place, from government officers to free settlers, some of whom grow exceeding wealthy on the backs of sheep: but I have found none that I could like as much as Mr Carter.

He is the finest of men, has a most humane spirit – there is very bad treatment goes on of the aboriginal peoples of the land, that he has a great admiration for, saying that when he was with the scientific expedition all were most prepossessed with their abilities in tracking and hunting and finding sustenance in what appeared a barren wilderness, where the products of civilization would have wandered in circles, or sat down and waited for death. He is writing up a memorandum on the subject, and wondered if, did we send it to you when completed, Mr Lowndes might publish it?

Indeed those years with the Duggetts seem like some nightmare from which I have now awakened. I am sure you would laugh and teaze me unmercifully did I tell you how wonderful I find the Thornes; they are quite the finest companions one could have.

But I mind that there was a thing I meant to ask you, about whether there was any in your circles that might pursue the matter. There has lately come about these parts two gentlemen – I say gentlemen because although they show the effect of hardships and are burnt very brown by the sun, they are clearly well-bred educated fellows does one speak to them – Mr Perry and Mr Derringe, that have some intention to set up a school for boys, for there is a considerable desire among the settlers &C to have their sons educated as gentlemen. While they go about to raise interest for this enterprize, they undertake some private tutoring. And one day came to us Mr Perry, half-carrying Mr Derringe that had some fever or other about him, seeking Mr Carter’s aid in this extremity.

We have a few beds attached to the dispensary, and he was laid in one of them, and examined by Mr Carter, who determined that ‘twas some fever very like unto the mala aria: most fortunate he keeps some fever bark about the dispensary, so quite immediate went about preparing a tincture. Meanwhile, he desired me to sponge the fellow to cool his fever.

So I went about this, and Mr Carter managed to convey him some of the tincture, and he seemed a little better, but then Mr Carter was called away, and said to me, dear Miss Netherne, would you greatly mind sitting by Mr Derringe and continuing to sponge him and keep him quiet, giving him a little of the tincture every few hours? Why, said I, I was about to ask was there anything I might do, so he left me with careful instructions.

I sat by Mr Derringe for some hours, and it seemed to me that he was troubled in his mind, and it did not seem entire delirium, and in due course he disclosed to me very halting and in between shivering fits, that he had on his conscience that he had allowed a young lady to whom he was affianced to suppose that he was dead of a fever in the South Seas, and it would have been a better and more honourable course to communicate to her that he had found that he was such a fellow as would not make her a good husband and thus set her at liberty with no obligation to mourn. She was, he said, a Miss Fenster, her father was the vicar of Upper Stobbing.

So to reassure him I said that the Thornes and I had numerous connexions in England that might be able to go about to find the present condition of the lady, but was it not like that she had by now married another? Very like, he said, she was a quite excellent young woman. So, dear Lucy, I write to you to ask are there any in your circles might go about with discretion to discover the present whereabouts of this lady, for it is clear that the business continues to prey upon Mr Derringe’s mind even though he has recovered from his fever, and Mr Carter fears 'twill bring about some relapse.

Oh, my dear Lucy, the only spot upon my happiness is that you may not be present at my wedding, that Mr Thorne will perform, and that I cannot see you and little Andrew and your excellent husband. Please convey my very greatest respects to Mr and Mrs Ferraby and to Lady Bexbury, that great patroness of our enterprize here: oh what a foolish misguided narrow-minded creature I was to so misjudge her fine qualities.

With every affection, your loving sister, Ellie

rachelmanija: (Heroes: support WGA)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
The "alt-right," aka LITERAL NAZIS like the ones who murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, is planning a protest in Los Angeles this Saturday. Here's what I found when I went looking for a counter-protest. I will be there.

Obviously, this could be dangerous. But I am not letting LITERAL NAZIS march in my city unopposed. Besides, it could be a great opportunity:



Please let me know if you're going, so we can rideshare or try to meet up or something.

Defend Diversity: Fight to Protect Diversity Policies in the Workplace!!

Public · Hosted by Defend Movement and Build the Peoples' Democratic Workers' Party

Saturday at 12 PM - 3:30 PM

340 Main St, Venice, California 90291

(no subject)

Aug. 12th, 2017 05:51 pm
skygiants: Clopin from Notre-Dame de Paris; text 'sans misere, sans frontiere' (comment faire un monde)
[personal profile] skygiants
I just finished Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, which is definite proof that a book-length allegory CAN ALSO be a coherent and compelling novel. (Is this a Kazuo Ishiguro callout post? MAYBE.)

The easiest and most facile way to describe The Underground Railroad is basically like Underground the TV show meets Snowpiercer. I mean, significantly less silly than Snowpiercer, which is a deeply silly movie -- but insofar as it's a train-based road trip for your life in which every stop is an Allegory On the Evils of Class and Capitalism, like that, except in this case it's an allegory on America's original sins.

The book's heroine is Cora, a woman who escapes from a deep-South plantation on an enormous hidden network of rails and tunnels, gaining and losing allies along the way. Each time she gets off she thinks that maybe she's found a place where she can stop and live a human life, and each place she visits reflects a different knife-angle of the generally horrific history of race in America -- alternate histories, but real ones.

Allegory aside, Cora is very much a real and complex and compelling character, and the places she visits have heft to them. Cora's identity is bound up in the legend and mystery of her mother Mabel, the one slave in the plantation's history (before Cora) who was able to escape and vanish completely; she's a real person, too, and so are all the other perspectives that we glimpse briefly in interstitial interludes along Cora's journey. It's a really good book. It's a very page-turning book, and although it's (obviously) extremely grim at times, it's not actually a hopeless book.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Dekteon, a slave in fantasyland, escapes and blunders into a strange world between worlds where horses have bear paws and he gets hired by a man who looks just like him to guard him from the terrors of the night. At least, that's the excuse. But it turns out that his new employer has a much more sinister task in mind.

This odd fantasy has some very beautiful, striking images and scenes, and the first fourth or so has a wonderfully spooky, dreamlike atmosphere. Unfortunately, once Dekteon is sent to the matriarchy of cold, bitchy moon women and the sun men they rule, the magic falls away and is replaced by an annoying plot in which he gets the better of the entire society just by being a manly man and not doing what the women say. I'm not objecting just because it's sexist. I'm also objecting because it's dumb and boring.

Not one of Tanith Lee's best. Though I do love the cover, which is 100% accurately taken from the book. A woman with an ivory bow riding a horned lion is what I read fantasy for; wish she was in a better book.

It was part of the MagicQuest series, a fantastic YA fantasy imprint which reprinted (or originally published some?) books by Patricia McKillip, Jane Yolen, Diana Wynne Jones, Peter Dickinson, Robert Westall, Paul Fisher, and Elizabeth Marie Pope. They had great covers and sometimes also great interior illustrations, and I haunted libraries and bookshops for them - all were reliably worth reading, though I liked some more than others. (I never warmed up to Peter Dickinson, and the Pied Piper book was forgettable.) Except for the Westall book, I read all its books for the first time from that imprint; it introduced me to Diana Wynne Jones and Tanith Lee.

I wish the imprint had lasted longer, but it only put out 18 books. Looking them up now, I see that I never saw or even heard of The Last Days of the Edge of the World by Brian Stableford.

Anyone else read MagicQuest? What were your favorites and least favorites?

There should be more to come

Aug. 11th, 2017 10:11 am
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Yr humble amanuensis is most entire grateful for the comments on the recently concluded novella.

There are still a few snippets in hand and - possibly - one or two longer pieces.

Watch this space.

(no subject)

Aug. 10th, 2017 08:49 pm
skygiants: Yong Ha from Sungkyunkwan Scandal (trollface)
[personal profile] skygiants
To be honest, I didn't really expect to love the kdrama Descendants of the Sun, a romantic melodrama about a special forces soldier and an ER surgeon. I'm skeptical about romanticizing the military! Contemporary melodrama is not my thing! Probably there were going to be too many dudes all over the place everywhere anyway!

OH, HOW WRONG I WAS. Descendants of the Sun is a GEM.

Screencaps cannot capture the majesty )
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Please comment if you've read any of these or others by the same author.

Poll #18676 Oldie Children's Books
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 38


Beginner's Luck, by Oriel Malet. Jenny is sure she'll be a famous ballerina. Victoria is sure she has no talent. James (9) writes a poem: "O venerable is our old Ancestor, to finance our first trip to the theater."

View Answers

Fling
10 (50.0%)

Marry
4 (20.0%)

Kill
6 (30.0%)

Cherry Ames, Army Nurse, by Helen Wells. An entry I haven't read in a series I loved as a kid; a young nurse helps her patients and sometimes also solves mysteries.

View Answers

Fling
12 (54.5%)

Marry
8 (36.4%)

Kill
2 (9.1%)

The Kelpie's Pearls, by Mollie Hunter. "The story of how Morag MacLeod came to be called a witch is a queer one and not at all the sort of thing you would expect to happen nowadays."

View Answers

Fling
16 (61.5%)

Marry
7 (26.9%)

Kill
3 (11.5%)

The Little White Horse, by Eleanor Goudge. When orphaned young Maria Merryweather arrives at Moonacre Manor, she feels as if she's arrived in Paradise.

View Answers

Fling
18 (62.1%)

Marry
8 (27.6%)

Kill
3 (10.3%)

The Magic Book, by Willo Davis Roberts. Apparently the only other sff novel by the author of "The Girl With the Silver Eyes," an old favorite of mine.

View Answers

Fling
14 (60.9%)

Marry
9 (39.1%)

Kill
0 (0.0%)

Otto of the Silver Hand, written and illustrated by Howard Pyle. A historical adventure by the author of fairy tales I used to love as a kid.

View Answers

Fling
10 (50.0%)

Marry
8 (40.0%)

Kill
2 (10.0%)

The Time of the Kraken, by Jay Williams. Thorgeir Redhair must go on a quest to save his people from the kraken, since they're too busy fighting another tribe to do anything useful. By the author of my old favorite, "The Hero From Otherwhere."

View Answers

Fling
12 (57.1%)

Marry
5 (23.8%)

Kill
4 (19.0%)

We Rode to the Sea, by Christine Pullein-Thompson. Horse story by an author of other horse stories I liked as a kid.

View Answers

Fling
13 (61.9%)

Marry
4 (19.0%)

Kill
4 (19.0%)

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Geoffrey’s confusion over the owner of the library brings to Sandy’s mind that there are still several trunks of his stored somewhere about the house, containing his own books and other matters, and does he intend staying here, he might unpack them and see is there some place he might keep them more convenient.

He mentions this to Clorinda. O, indeed, she cries, I daresay one might put up more shelves in the library, mayhap a few about your chamber – I wonder might we come about to make a study for you –

No, no, I am quite contented to be about philosophizing in the library –

Do I not disturb you am I in and out?

Not in the least, dearest Clorinda. And, my dear, do I continue to be part of this household, you have been treating me entirely as a guest in Liberty Hall, but I should wish to pay my way -

Clorinda looks as if she might object, and then says, with a lopsided smile, that sure he would not wish to be a kept man and 'twould be somewhat to reassure the dear children that he does not take advantage of a poor lonesome creature –

Exactly. I do not wish to acquire the reputation of a parasite.

O, poo. But let us go summon Hector about this matter of shelves: I doubt not he will say that do we have carpenters in there are other matters that would require their attention.

This is indeed so. Hector also shows some disposition towards bringing down the trunks from the attic in which they are stored for Sandy’s examination, but is finally prevailed upon to concede that this may take place in the attic, and only such matters as turn out to be required need be brought down.

So the next morn, he ascends to the attic and looks at the boxes that hold his past life, and tells himself that he must be philosophical about the business, for it is entirely foolish to leave all these things stowed away.

And is almost undone at the outset, flinging open a lid and finding, resting on top of everything, his worn volume of Burns’ poems. That had been with him so long and to so many places, and from which he had read at so many gatherings.

He picks it up as if it might bite. Closes his eyes and lets it fall open (entire superstition) and then opens his eyes to read

Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

Tears spring to his eyes, as he is overwhelmed by the memories of how indeed he and Gervase had loved so kindly, had enjoyed happiness for so many years in a world so very hostile to men like them. And he would not have given that up in spite of the grief he feels now. Gervase at his fencing practice. Gervase frowning thoughtfully at his mirrored reflection and adjusting his cravat. Gervase teaching him to dance. Gervase clinging to him in the aftermath of nightmare. Gervase’s face when he returned from Naples. Gervase laughing at some sally of Clorinda’s. Gervase practising a speech so that he might give it in the Lords without stammering. Gervase in that masquerade costume as a Jacobite out of Scott.

He lets the memories flood over him.

Some hours later, though he has not quite finished the task, for each box opened releases further clouds of memories, the antithesis of the evils that emerged from Pandora’s box, he goes downstairs to the parlour, clutching the volume of Burns in his hand.

Clorinda looks up. You have cobwebs in your hair, o bello scozzese. She stands up and comes over and reaches up to brush them away.

Listen! he says, and begins to read the lines to her, realising as he does so that his voice is softening out of the English intonation it has acquired over the years –

- and Clorinda bursts into heaving sobs quite unlike the affecting tearfulness she will sometimes manifest, and leaning on his chest, gasps out, O, Sandy, I miss them so much.

He puts his arms around her, reminded of the time she disclosed in similar fashion that she was with child. Dear Clorinda, he says.

At length her sobs diminish and she leans away from him, fumbling for her handkerchief, blowing her nose, and making apologies, saying, La, you are not obliged to endeavour go soothe a lady that succumbs to a fit of hysterics.

He hugs her to him again and says, Perchance it might ease your mind to talk sometimes of happy times with one that knows somewhat of the inwardness?

She gives a shaky laugh and says, Fie, Mr MacDonald, I confide you would be mightily shocked did I so.

Must be of considerable philosophical and scientific interest, he says.

They both fall into a fit of somewhat hysterical giggling.

Clorinda sits down and dabs at her eyes and says, does she look calm enough that the household will not get into a fret does any observe her? For she confides that they could both do with some good strong coffee.

When she has tidied herself a little she rings the bell to request coffee.

As they sit drinking it, he looks across at his friend and says, Dearest Clorinda, I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange? Sure I do not know how I would have contrived without you. You have always been so kind to one that I fear can be a very tiresome fellow.

La, my dear, you have ever shown more than civil to a silly creature of no education, spoke to me as if I was a rational being, been the kindest of friends. Sure we have been through a deal of difficulties together: though none, she adds thoughtfully, as trying as this present one.

They both sigh and gaze mournfully into their cups. And then look up again and smile at one another.

The door opens and Josh comes in, dishevelled and weary-eyed. I have, he says, been attending upon the accouchement of Lady Raxdell’s wanton doggie. Do we know any that would like a puppy of extreme dubious ancestry?

Why, says, Clorinda, let us go think over those of our acquaintance that have children that would greatly desire a puppy, and would not go be nice over matters of breeding -

The two men look at her fondly and smile.

- I suppose one cannot yet tell are they like to be fine ratters, sure Sam will always be glad of ratters for the stables – but I could not offer take one myself, Motley and Fribble would object most vehement –

Through the half-open door Prue can be heard singing hymns about her work - I woke: the dungeon flamed with light.

And Sandy thinks that his own dungeon of loss does not flame yet with light: but there is the small steady candle of Clorinda’s love and concern driving away the worst of the shadows.

(no subject)

Aug. 9th, 2017 09:57 pm
skygiants: Kyoko from Skip Beat! making a mad flaily dive (oh flaily flaily)
[personal profile] skygiants
I enjoyed Martha Wells' Wheel of the Infinite but I am also pretty sure that my reading experience was devised in exactly the wrong way to allow me to appreciate the plot as a coherent narrative.

I read the first half of the book on the plane between San Francisco and Chicago, which meant I got all the fantastic initial setup: a long-suffering middle-aged heroine, exiled from her home city for accidentally getting three husbands killed while following the wrong prophetic vision, accidentally rescues a cute swordsman in a brief break from protecting a plucky theater troupe from a cursed stage puppet!

Then the cute young swordsman immediately decides to be her joint boyfriend and bodyguard because he has nothing else to do with his life, and she's like "he followed me home, can I keep him? ...wait I'm an exiled superpowered divine avatar, I literally don't have to ask anyone else, I CAN JUST KEEP HIM :D" and then he and she and the theater troupe all go back to her home city to sort out a potentially apocalyptic problem in the annual setting-the-world-in-order religious ritual and also, very importantly, get the theater puppet un-cursed, and at about this point I got to Chicago and although I was enjoying myself immensely I didn't really have time to read another word until I was on a flight back to Boston.

So at this point I opened my Kobo again and spoilers! )
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