The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: DNF

Shorthand for “Did Not Finish.”

First of all, it was so big. When it was mailed to self at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, she couldn’t believe how big it was.

Two English cities (London and Oxford) later, she was still just on p. 21 and it looked like she’d be lugging this book to Cambridge.

Which then led to her asking the crucial question: Is this big fat heavy book that seems well written but doesn’t have a single character self feels she knows (though why should she know them? They’re from rural Wisconsin, for heavens sake!), worth the shoulder strain? Despite fantastic Stephen King blurb on back cover?

The answer, after yet another frustrating evening reading about dogs, was no.

So she’s moved on to an English mystery, Missing, Presumed, which has a very interesting title, much more interesting than the book self just finished reading, Dead Letters. Titles do not, obviously, say everything because Dead Letters turned out to be a fascinating read.

The front cover of Missing, Presumed (which was mailed to her from Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway) shows this:

Missing, Presumed

72 Hours to Find Her

Ooh!

The first scene is a blind date which is very pedestrian but the main character is so lonely that she sleeps with the guy anyway.

Will this woman turn out to:

  • be a self-hating alcoholic?
  • be facing misogyny  in her (police) department where she will undoubtedly turn out to be one of only two, at the most three, women detectives?
  • harbor a deep, dark secret — incest? murder? Or something never before written about in the 101 mysteries inspired by Gone, Girl (which self never read)?

And will the missing really be dead, or just pretending to be dead, in which case would this be similar to the book self just finished reading?

Whatever. Self needs Missing, Presumed to be interesting for at least four hours: the length of the bus trip to Cambridge.

Stay tuned.

 

Still Reading THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE

Haven’t reached the dog point-of-view chapters yet. When self does, that may very well spell The End. But David Wroblewski’s writing style is quite lyrical. And very spare. For the first time in her life, self understands that a dog obssession may not be the worst thing to spend a week reading about. Who knows. She’s still on the fence about dog point-of-view.

To help her along, she re-reads wicked letters from Zelda Her Malevolence in Caite Dolan-Leach’s over-the-top but strangely magnetic novel, Dead Letters. (What Follows Is Not Really a Spoiler, Since Zelda Could Just Be Pretending To Be Dead) To show you how fabulous this Zelda is, her funeral photo (selected by her father) shows her in a see-through caftan, an image of pure, feral Untameability. Picture of course taken by her strait-laced sister, the one whose boyfriend she stole. Do you see how over-the-top this novel is? Why isn’t it set in some British stiff-upper-lip society drawing room?

When self started this trip, she thought she’d be unloading books as quickly as she went, leaving them behind after she’d done reading them. But oops, she found herself wanting to re-read Emma (Jane Austen). Then Autonomous (Annalee Newitz). Then All Systems Red (Martha Wells). And now, Dead Letters.

What. Is. Going. On.

Stay tuned.

Suggested Places in Oxford for His Dark Materials fans (Courtesy of Twittagazze)

All locations in Oxford (or adjoining):

His Dark Materials locations:

  • Exeter College (Jordan College in the books)
  • The Bodleian Library
  • Oxford Botanical Garden (Lyra and Will’s Bench is here)
  • The Pitt-Rivers Museum
  • The Covered Market
  • Christ Church
  • Story Museum (to see Philip Pullman’s head-of-chapter drawings from His Dark Materials)

The Book of Dust locations:

  • Walk Paths Along the Isis
  • Port Meadow
  • Wolvercote (a 1-hour walk from Port Meadow): The Trout and the nearby priory
  • Jericho area: Juxon Street and The Butterfly Tattoo
  • The Ashmolean
  • The White Horse Pub next to Blackwell’s

It was a spectacularly beautiful day. Self started out from Oxford City Centre and made it all the way to the Oxford Botanic Garden:

DSCN0047DSCN0048

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach: Page 96

This is how my father gets away with his perennial negligence and failure to come through: He shows up at just the right moment, with exactly what you need. And because it’s so unexpected, you feel this surge of gratitude toward him, like he’s accomplished something superhuman.


Self is enjoying this book.

Stay tuned.

Currently Reading: DEAD LETTERS

Self finished All Systems Red two days ago, which marked the end of her science fiction cycle and the beginning of a mysteries/thrillers cycle. She’s currently reading Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach, which is full-on family angst, involving twins. Talk about upping the ante.

She likes clustering her reading — sometimes by genre, sometimes by author.

For a few years, she read only books by women.

Another few years, she read only memoirs.

Another few years, she read only travel books.

Another few years, she read only books by African American writers.

One summer, she read only Henning Mankell.

There was a period of reading just history books.

And so forth.

For 2018, she read mostly novels. But these ranged from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials to science fiction. She adored reading science fiction, which she hadn’t done in a while. She read The Hunger Games, sure — but they don’t really count as science fiction, do they?

Anyhoo, she is sorry to let the science fiction genre go. It’s probably the most rapidly expanding literary genre at present. And, because in August she attended a talk by George R. R. Martin in Redwood City’s Fox, and picked up a few copies of Oakland-based Locus Magazine, her attention was immediately captured by an announcement of the World Fantasy Awards. One of her newly discovered favorite authors, Fonda Lee, whose Jade City self just finished reading, was a co-winner with Victor LaValle for Best Novel (Yay, Fonda Lee!)

They even had a category for Best Short Story, for which Fonda Lee was a finalist.

And there was also a category for Best Artist (Winner: Gregory Manchess). She really enjoyed looking up the finalists art.

Now, back to her reading/writing.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Quote of the Day: ALL SYSTEMS RED

DSCN0195

  • And what was I supposed to do? Go off on this empty planet and just live until my power cells died? If I was going to do that, I should have planned better and downloaded more entertainment media.

— Murderbot, All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Love Murderbot!

All Systems Red, p. 19:

It’s been a hectic day. Murderbot had to rescue two humans from the clutches of a monster that resides in a crater, seriously injuring himself in the process.

Murderbot doesn’t care that he is injured, though. All he wants is to be alone in his cell so he can resume his video.

Finally he is alone in his cell!

  • So I set all the security feeds to alert me if anything tried to eat the habitat and started to call up the supply of media I’d downloaded from the entertainment feed. I hurt too much to pay attention to anything with a story, but the friendly noise would keep me company.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

ALL SYSTEMS RED, p.32

Murderbot just saved two humans on his team from being eaten by a monster that lived in a crater.

The whole crew tries to be kind, but Murderbot is in a hurry to get away so he can continue watching vid in his room.

Mensah (the Leader of the Crew): Try to pinpoint any missing information. When we have a partial list, I’ll call DeltFall and see if they can send us the files.

Murderbot Interior Monologue: That sounds like a great plan, in that it didn’t involve me.

Murderbot (out loud): Dr. Mensah, do you need me for anything else?

lol

Stay tuned.

Paladin Tries Social Interaction With a Humint In a Bar

Autonomous, p. 147:

After ordering tea, the man slouched so far over the bar that Paladin could see a pale stripe of skin showing above the waistband of his pants. It was time to try his opening gambit. Offer a piece of personal information, and humans will be sure to offer some of their own.

“I have never been here before, and it is not what I expected,” Paladin vocalized, turning his torso and face towards the man, who looked up with an expression of vague surprise. He hadn’t expected anyone to talk to him, least of all a giant robot.

lol

lol everywhere.

Stay tuned.

Robot Wants To Learn About Humint Sexual Practices: AUTONOMOUS, P. 96

Paladin. Is. An. Adorable. Robot.

Makes a pass (unprogrammed!) at his human handler, Eliasz, in a very subtle way, which does not fool Eliasz, not one bit.

Trigger Warning: Homophobia

Paladin: Some of the robots said they were learning about human sexuality. Do you think military robots need to do that?

Eliasz (Flushing): I don’t know anything about that. I’m not a faggot.

Paladin begins searching his database for uses of the word “faggot.”

He is so absorbed that even in defensive mode (activated because of an attack), 20% of his mind is still pre-occupied with searches for the word. So while shooting people in the face, data comes in and “he could start to build a taxonomy. Each use of ‘faggot’ could be categorized, and he began assigning them to subcategories.”

lol

Stay tuned.

 

 

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