Adolf Hitler, Aspiring Artist

“The rapid catching of an atmosphere, of a certain mood, which is so typical of a water color and which, with its delicate touch, imparts to it freshness and liveliness — this was missing completely in Adolf’s work,” a friend named Kubizek recalled.

The Gallery of Miracles and Madness, p. 67

I suppose you couldn’t really call Kubizek a friend, since in reality Hitler had no friends. But Kubizek did get close enough to be shown examples of Hitler’s art.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Do You Think It Will Happen Again?”

The two main characters of The End of Men meet on p. 261!

Catherine: “Do you think it will happen again?”

Amanda: “Just because your husband left you doesn’t mean your house can’t catch on fire. In other words, tragedy doesn’t immunize you against further tragedy . . . The vaccine we have should be effective, yes, and we can use it to adjust to new strains. But in theory the Plague could mutate, allowing the vaccine to be ineffective.”

A Plague That Kills Only Men

Self admits, the plot did seem a little far-fetched when she first heard it, but Christina Sweeney-Baird explains why about halfway through, and it is not completely out of left field.

Lucy, who’d only been a midwife for fifteen months when the Plague hit: “Of the two-hundred eighty-four boys I’ve helped to deliver in the last six months, twenty-nine have survived.”

Readers attend a live birth on p. 209, and everyone in the delivery room (including this reader) is painfully holding her breath until the determination of sex is made.

Ripped from the Headlines

omg, this book. This Ripped from the Headlines book. Written at least a year before the pandemic. A year! Writers do have the ability to predict the future.

There are two main points of view (both women, because the virus attacks only men. Men are toast!)

Amanda and her husband are both doctors. She screams at him not to go to work, but he does anyway.

“It’s a baby,” he shouts at me when I finally run out of steam after his return. He was only gone a few hours. “She’s going to die if I don’t help. I’m the only pediatric oncologist in the hospital at the moment.” He doesn’t say why he’s the only pediatric oncologist because he knows it answers my questions for me and makes his arguments absurd. He’s the only pediatric oncologist in the hospital at the moment because the other two fucking died.

“You have two children here in this house,” I scream with fury. “You might be a better doctor than me but I’m a better parent.

The End of Men, p. 32

Then:

Will is weeping now. I’ve never made him cry before . . . But this mistake is not reversible. I cannot touch my husband because if he is carrying the virus I might catch it and then our boys will be more likely to get sick. I cannot forgive him if the boys die because of this.

The End of Men, pp. 32 – 33

Razorblade Tears, Staying True to the Genre

There is so much over-the-top violence in this book, it even outdoes Eddie’s Boy in that department (and if you have read Eddie’s Boy, you know that is saying a lot). Anyhoo, self doesn’t really mind, because it stays true to its genre. Not only that, the plot is something else.

Her favorite character is Buddy Lee.

“And we gonna need guns. Lots of guns,” Ike said. Buddy Lee sucked his teeth.

“I think we can kill both them birds with one stone. But we gotta go talk to some folks. What we gonna do with him?” Buddy Lee asked.

“We’ll chain him to the sink in the bathroom,” Ike said.

“You came up with that quick,” Buddy Lee said.

“This ain’t my first rodeo.”

“I know, mine neither. You got a talent for it, though,” Buddy Lee said.

“Unfortunately,” Ike said.

Razorblade Tears, p. 290

Her next book (which she is quite itching to get to) is called The End of Men, and it’s about a dystopian future world where men are an endangered gender. Unfortunately, we still need them to reproduce. In light of Texas bounty hunter/abortion law which the Supreme Court of the United States allowed to let stand (despite the law’s utter stupidity; self is a woman, she is allowed to say such things), she will have a lot of fun reading about a future world where men are scarce.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd Noir of the Day, 2 September 2021

“What the hell is going on out here?” Randy yelled. He had the self-assurance of most mediocre men.

Razorblade Tears, p. 157

There is much violence in this book. In fact, the two main characters can’t seem to hold a normal conversation, unless it’s with each other. With others, each conversation begins with a threat and ends with violence. That’s a lot of violence because, this being noir, there’s also a lot of conversation.

Nevertheless.

You will be vested in the characters.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Noir of the Day

Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction where Bruce Willis has to …

Never mind. Read on.

“I can just tell ’em you ain’t here,” Jazzy said.

“No, that’s okay. Let’s see what they want,” Ike said. He walked around his cubicle and headed for the lobby. As he was on his way he grabbed a machete off the wall.

Five men in leather vests and various degrees of hirsuteness were standing in the lobby. A couple of them were reading the avertisements on the wall. Two more were standing near the door. A big blond man with a wicked scar on his cheek that cut through his beard was leaning against the soda machine with his heavily tattooed arms crossed.

Ike placed the machete on the counter.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

Razorblade Tears, p. 105

Outrageous! Hilarious! Outrageous AND Hilarious

Okay, okay, I’ll share a litte of the plot. Just a teensy morsel. If you don’t want to know the smallest detail, DO NOT READ THIS POST.

Ike, a black man who runs a landscaping service, and Buddy Lee, a white alcoholic (So nice to write WHITE alcoholic instead of black alcoholic or Native American alcoholic, the usual literary tropes), are thrown together when their sons who were living openly together, are murdered.

You can appreciate what a strain this puts on both men, who are just about as macho as can be.

The opening scene is at the funeral, so this isn’t much of a spoiler. Buddy Lee is able to persuade Ike to help him hunt for their son’s killers.

First stop: The Rainbow Review

The Rainbox Review is on the third floor,” Ike said.

“Yeah, that sounds pretty gay,” Buddy Lee said. Ike cut his eyes sideways at him.

Razorblade Tears, p.45

How Iceland Changed the World: Introduction

Self has finished reading the Amanda Lindhout memoir (written with Sara Corbett), A House in the Sky. She decided she would just have to get it over with. She wasn’t even sure she’d have the stomach to read it all the way through, but the writing is amazing. That’s what amazing writing can do: it holds you hostage. Self spent the whole of this beautiful day (sun was shining, and it was NOT HOT) just racing to finish A House in the Sky.

There are some parts that, okay, made self laugh, like the part where Amanda and Nigel are being taken to yet another “safe” house. They were being held in separate rooms and when she sees Nigel, she notices Nigel is shirtless and wonders if . . . okay, never mind. Nigel was unmolested. Lucky for him, he was a man. They sort of respected him. There is a lot about her feelings for Nigel in this book, which adds to the sadness because . . . Amanda was clinging to him so hard, just to make it through, and Nigel was essentially helpless, and made a lot of promises he didn’t mean, because — hey, there were hostages!

Anyhoo, she’s alive, he’s alive, it’s all good.

Onward!

Self’s next book might seem like a strange choice, except that her son has gone there. To Iceland. All by himself. She found out recently.

And also, once, self spent Christmas in Paris, and the only other guests at her tiny hotel in the 17th arrondissement were a Filipino family who were on their way to Iceland for a family vacation, and came with tons of luggage.

Imagine the odds of two different Filipino entities meeting in a Paris hotel on Christmas day! And we didn’t even know each other from Adam! The three kids of the family ranged in age from — if self were to guess — five to 10. WHO GOES TO ICELAND FOR FAMILY VACATION. For that matter, who spends Christmas alone in Paris! But self wasn’t alone! She was with Francine and Francoise, who were so circumspect they never greeted her a Merry Christmas and acted like it was just an ordinary day! All they said to her that day was: “Madame, you must go to the Louvre. NO LINES TODAY.” Which turned out to be very good advice.

This is a very digressive post! Finally, the Iceland book:

Introduction:

The town of Selfoss is a rare find. Nearly all of the sixty-three towns and cities in Iceland were first established out of nautical convenience, in sight of approaching ships, but Selfoss sits inland, away from the stony coast. I grew up there, landlocked.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Uneasy in Mogadishu

Airport security use whips to keep order in the Mogadishu Airport, one barely grazing Amanda’s head. Amanda’s traveling with her ex-boyfriend, who left his job as a gardener in Glasgow to have some thrills. But on the flight to Mogadishu, he projects uneasiness. Amanda’s managed to snag an actual assignment this time, but the organization pays for hotel, transportation and food only, NOT security. Since she is not completely reckless, she’s arranged for a private security firm.

Once on the ground, it is immediately apparent that Amanda and Nigel are rank amateurs. They’re targeted almost immediately, this Canadian woman handing out $5 tips and this Australian man tagging along to take pictures he can hopefully sell.

They are met at the airport. Aside from the driver, there are two other men who pile into the car with them, all holding weapons. They take off for Mogadishu at high speed, at one point passing “a pickup truck with four lanky teen-age boys riding in the bed, their arms clamped over a mounted machine gun that pointed like a spear out the back.”

And yet: “The city was beautiful despite itself.”

Self is beginning to understand how Amanda Lindhout survived her experience. But Nigel? The jury’s still out on Nigel.

It turns out there is only one private security firm, and they’ve assigned their best people to escort a team from National Geographic. Amanda and Nigel are assigned the B Team. One guy quits before he even meets them. That leaves ONE inexperienced guy to provide security.

Amanda asks the National Geographic photographer (who is French) what places they’ve been, and he politely but firmly declines to tell her because “In Somalia, you can’t do the same thing twice. They will catch you.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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