The Challenge

The knighthood then unites
and each knight says the same:
their king can stand aside
and give Gawain this game.

So the sovereign instructed his knight to stand.

Ooh! Self loves this! She’s practically flying through the text!

Ibrahim, TMWDT

Donna looks up, breathes out, and blinks tears from the corners of her eyes.

“Thank you. I’ve felt a bit stupid recently.”

“Loneliness is hard, Donna. It’s one of the big ones.”

“You should do this for a living, you know?”

“You are simply a little lost, Donna. And if one is never lost in life, then clearly one has never traveled anywhere interesting.”

“And you?” asks Donna. “You seem sad.”

“I’m a little sad, yes,” agrees Ibrahim. “I’m frightened, and I can’t see a way through it.”

“Up the next mountain would be my advice,” says Donna.

The Man Who Died Twice, p. 254

Richard Osman’s dialogue. That is all.

Joyce, TMWDT

Although perhaps he isn’t really boring, if everything you hear is true? Killings and gold and helicopters and whatnot? Though if you need killings and gold and helicopters to make you interesting then I suppose you are still boring at heart. Gerry never needed a helicopter.

The Man Who Died Twice, p. 160

Reading this book ever so much faster than she read The Birthday Boys (That book took two damn weeks!) but not trying to rush through because she enjoys the Fearless Four so much.

Next year, she will again join the Goodreads Reading Challenge, but will up her reading goal by 1 or 2. Mustn’t get too ambitious, but this year she almost doubled her reading goals, who would have thought?

Stay tuned.

Douglas Middlemiss, MI5, and his Assistant, Poppy

SPOILER ALERT

Poppy is in a bedroom at the back of the house, with a view of a council car park and some bins. To get to his door, someone would have to go past Poppy’s. And she had proved surprisingly effective last time. Shooting Andrew Hastings. One of Martin Lomax’s close-protection officers, sent to kill him but, instead, killed himself by a small woman with a nose ring and an Ottolenghi cookbook.

The Man Who Died Twice, p. 95

Oh, the Cheekiness of It All

SPOILER ALERT

Call to Martin Lomax, The Man Who Died Twice, p. 83:

  • Does he know an Andrew Hastings? He does. Does Andrew Hastings work for him? He does, no use lying, this is MI5 and they know already. Was Mr. Hastings working for him this evening? No, he was not. We regret to inform you that Mr. Hastings has been shot dead while trying to murder a member of the British Security Services, condolences for your loss, but I wonder if you would have any comment on that.

Is there a #3 installment of The Thursday Murder Club in the works? Because self wanted it, like, yesterday.

Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day, 2nd Friday of December 2021

This year is going out with a bang! I know, I can feel it. Dick’s Place on Main Street (Mendocino) — a fine, fine name for a bar, in self’s humble opinion) is always full, and now the Mendocino Hotel bar has re-opened — after almost two years. Lots of people wandering in and out, live music. Good times!

Self is on p. 79 of a very delightful book, The Man Who Died Twice. And the section she’s on is Joyce’s, who is such a droll character. Apparently, a man’s head has been blown off from close range. Joyce isn’t sure she wants to see what a man with no head looks like, but “just as they loaded the body onto the stretcher” Joyce gets a “quick peek before they zipped up the body bag and, yes, Poppy really had blown his head off.”

Quote of the Day, 2nd Friday of December 2021

Self was supposed to leave Mendocino today. She decided to stay a little longer. YAY!

Last night, she was reading a section in The Man Who Died Twice (Five Stars, maybe even Six) about REVENGE. It did not feature the Shakesperean “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Or even the native Indian, or maybe the ancient Roman, wisdom: “If revenge is what you seek, dig two graves.” Instead, on p. 72, it said this:

  • Revenge is not a straight line, it’s a circle. It’s a grenade that goes off while you’re still in the room, and you can’t help but be caught in the blast.

Courtesy of Richard Osman. You’re welcome.

There is a continuation.

This morning, Ibrahim (still laid up in the hospital after being kicked in the head by a band of schoolboy thugs) reflects on a client (Eric) who was sold a lemon by a car dealership who refused to cover the cost of the repairs. So the client had the car repaired at his own expense, then drove it through the dealership’s front window in the dead of night.

Eric’s daughter and the son of the car dealer had also been friends at school. Eric forbade his daughter from ever talking to the boy and so, as winter follows summer, they had got married two years later, with Eric refusing to attend the wedding.

And so forth. And so forth.

Never seek revenge, dear blog readers. Revenge sucks.

Don’t Know About You, But

Self is quite enjoying reading about this shady Martin Lomax. He’ll probably end up getting bumped off. In the meantime, there’s this pesky journalist who asks to use his toilet.

“The equipment shed is nearer.”

No one ever comes in the house unless it’s business. No one. First it’s toilets, and then you never know what. MI5 think they can just break in? We’ll see about that. Martin Lomax has many friends. Saudi princes, a one-eyed Kazakh with a one-eyed Rottweiler. Both the Kazakh and the Rottweiler would rip you apart without hesitation. No one comes into the house without his invitation.

The Man Who Died Twice, p. 53

Quote of the Day, 2nd Thursday in December 2021

Free of the cumbersome toil of struggling through the last days of Robert Falcon Scott’s inept Antarctica expedition, in which everybody wound up dead, self is now reading a mystery, the delightful second installment of the Thursday Murder Club series, by Richard Osman. May the main characters live to be in their nineties because she needs their wry, self-deprecating humor, dammit!

Martin Lomax interior monologue, p. 53:

  • He is certain that somebody will end up dead, and he just needs to make sure it’s not him.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Last Act of These Men’s Lives

Still on Birdie’s section. It has been a hard, unrelenting slog: nothing but ice, and trying to keep going, and the sunless dark, for sixteen days straight. What’s amazing is how Beryl Bainbridge recreates it all. The human spirit is simply unfathomable, the way it just keeps going. All gratitude to Bainbridge for writing such a brutal, honest, and unflinching narrative!

  • We rose at three the next morning, into moonlight misty with fog. It’s at Cape Evans that the barrier, that great wall of ice which extends 400 miles south and east, meets the land, and we could just make out the tumultuous shapes of the pressure fields jostling the smudged edge of the frozen sea. On Bill’s reckoning it was four miles to the cliffs, and he wanted to get there by midday so as to have the benefit of the twilight hour. Blubber for the stove was now a more urgent priority than Emperor eggs; we were a quarter of the way through the fifth of those six precious tins of oil the Owner had so begrudged our taking.

So yes, dear blog readers, it looks like this is going to be a dreadful slog through to the bitter end, we are going to have to struggle along with these men until they take their last breaths. Self did not much care for Robert Falcon Scott’s section, but Birdie’s, now! There’s a point of view to get lost in.

The horror is unrelenting: they come across a colony of Emperor penguins and start slaughtering like mad! For the penguins’ blubber. And those penguins are too stupid to try and evade the knife. They just stand there, waiting. The men save five eggs to take back to camp, and drop two on the way. God, this is super-depressing. If they ever make a movie about this expedition, self will not watch it.

What makes an author absolutely want to push the reader’s face in it, self wonders. Is it the feeling of being almost god-like, manipulating the reader’s emotions at will? Does she want to show that a woman is just as capable of imagining horror as a man? Ugh, will Bainbridge just HURRY UP AND GET IT OVER WITH.

The last part of Birdie’s section is dreams, dreams, dreams. Snow keeps falling on them, ugh ugh ugh. Self describes it all for dear blog readers so that they can decide for themselves if the beauty of Bainbridge’s prose is worth suffering through such pointless dying. It’s like Joyce Carol Oates, only historical.

The last section is Oates’s. Of course we have to see every inch of his gangrenous foot.

Today’s weather was vastly different from yesterday’s. Yesterday was glorious! Today was cold. Thank goodness self discovered the chocolate shop next to Dick’s Place (bar). What does chocolate have to do with anything? She got three truffles this afternoon and they were really yum, and the weather seemed far less cold after.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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