GULAG: A HISTORY, by Anne Applebaum

Today, self will attempt to add more books to her reading list, by dropping by a bookstore.

She is returning Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer, having read to about halfway.  It’s told from the point of view of  a rather seedy lawyer whose every thought is an analysis of how much he can make from fat-cat clients.

SPOILER ALERT!

When self got to the parts with the lawyer’s private eye, who turns out to be an extremely resourceful person, because of course he is William H. Macy . . .  whoops!  Self suddenly remembered something about William H. Macy’s character in the movie version.  Whoops, good-bye, she isn’t good with imagining William H. Macy as a corpse.  Because, after all, if he survived velociraptors in Jurassic Park 3, why cannot he survive some murderer-for-hire?  It’s just not possible!

Furthermore, after perusing last year’s reading list, self realized that she had actually read a more recent book by Michael Connelly, Nine Dragons.  She can’t remember a thing about it.  Oh boy, and here she was thinking that she was coming to Connelly fresh, having never read him before.

Anyhoo, the next book on her reading list, which she began a few days ago, is Gulag: A History, by Anne Applebaum.  Why she feels compelled to read a magisterial tome about Man’s Inhumanity to His Fellow Man when the evidence of Holiday cheer is just beginning, is a question she cannot answer.  Would it help to know that immediately after the birth of Sole Fruit of Her Loins, as she was resting up in her hospital bed, she was reading Dickens’ Bleak House?

But Anne Applebaum’s book is so interesting, and self hasn’t read a history since —  ok, since September, when she read Thomas E. Ricks’ absolutely enthralling book, Fiasco:  The American Military Adventure in Iraq.  So here she is, in the first Monday of December 2013 (What, already?) reading Applebaum’s Chapter 2:  The First Camp of the Gulag.

The first camp was established in the Solovetsky islands, in Russia’s White Sea.  Applebaum writes:

Scattered across the White Sea are Bolshaya Muksalma, where prisoners once bred silver-black foxes for their fur; Anzer, site of special camps for invalids, for women with babies, and for former monks; Zayatska Ostrov, the location of the women’s punishment camp.  Not by accident did Solzhenitsyn choose the metaphor of an “archipelago” to describe the Soviet camp system.  Solovetsky, the first Soviet camp to be planned and built with any expectation of permanence, developed on a genuine archipelago, spreading outward island by island, taking over the old churches and buildings of an ancient monastic community as it grew.

This is the kind of stuff self finds absolutely fascinating!

In addition, self has just learned that Gulag won a Pulitzer, the year it was published.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

20th Filipino American Film (CINE) Festival

CELEBRATE FILIPINO CINEMA AND SUPPORT TYPHOON YOLANDA (HAIYAN) RELIEF EFFORTS

December 9 – 14

Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth Street, San Francisco

A total of 33 full-length Filipino films and short works will be shown over a span of six days.  Net proceeds from the festival will be donated to the Super Typhoon Haiyan/ Yolanda recovery operations in the Philippines. There is a significant number of films made by Ilonggo filmmakers at the festival (that is, from Dear Departed Dad’s home province and Iloilo, the next island over)

FACINE is the longest running festival of films from the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora.

The Festival opens with the re-mastered, re-issued Filipino American cult sci-fi film, Ron C. Santiano’s Prophesy of Eve on December 9, 2013.

For more information, go to the FACINE (Filipino American Cine) website.

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