Past Squares 7: A Look Back at This Kickass Reading Year (2021)

This is also today’s post for Life of B’s Past Squares!

Quote of the Day: Michael Connelly

A book is like a car. It pulls up to the curb and the passenger door swings open to the reader. The engine revs. Do you want a ride?

Once you get in, the car takes off, the door slamming shut and the rubber burning in its wake. Behind the wheel the driver’s got to be highly skilled, heavy on the pedal, and most of all, oh man, most of all, somebody you want to be with. He’s got to drive near the edge of the cliff but never over. He’s got to turn sharply just as you think you know where you are going. He’s got to gun it on the final lap.

Introduction by Michael Connelly to the 2003 Edition of Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy

Self borrowed her copy from the library, and it is pretty beat up. Nevertheless.

She absolutely loved Eddie’s Boy. Which is what led her here, to the very first book of the series. What did she love so much about Eddie’s Boy? The main character was a professional hit man, married to a member of the British peerage. If that character description doesn’t grab you, self doesn’t know what will.

October Squares Challenge: Past-Squares

There are many ways to interpret this month’s Squares Challenge, Past-Squares. Self will confine herself to just one interpretation, this whole month of October:

  • Have fun with the word ‘past’ by sharing squares of history and heritage, and that includes past holidays!

Summer is over, but Cal Shakes came back with a vengeance, staging an adaptation of The Winter’s Tale that quite took self’s breath away. She went to see it three separate times in September: two Sunday matinees, and one Saturday night performance. The final performance is tomorrow night. WAAAAH! September moved by too quickly.

See you next year, Bruns Amphitheatre!

Russian Secret Police, Not To Be Deterred

Take heart, dear blog readers. Self is on p. 374 of The Slaughterman’s Daughter, which means there is a chance she will stop blogging about it, perhaps as soon as tomorrow! (Readers give collective sigh of relief).

Last night, sitting on her bed, she laughed so much and so loud, she’s sure the next-door neighbors heard. She was reading about a poor scarecrow of a man who could easily have stepped out of Don Quixote.

Here we are in a Russian Secret Police/Colonel Piotr Novak section:

God give him strength, he only met the four zyds a week ago. The lady of the group murdered his agents, another member of the group crushed his leg, and their toothpick of a companion wouldn’t stop singing. The one with the most alarming appearance, the scarred-mouth thug, was silent as a rock. None of them would be described as scholarly. If they had worn plain peasant clothes, they could have easily passed as local farmers. The woman was indeed intriguing, a Jewish Joan of Arc, perhaps, but goddamit what woman behaves like a wild beast

The Slaughterman’s Daughter, p. 374

Self knows she should hate Colonel Piotr Novak, but she just can’t. Or, to put it another way, she doesn’t want him to be off-ed until his humiliation is complete.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

This One’s a Real Winner

Quote of the Day, Last Monday of September 2021:

Dr. Yakunin administered medicines strictly in inverse proportion to their necessity. He kept chloroform from the dying and let them writhe in agony, whereas patients overcoming mild infections were given sedatives in high doses. Surprisingly, this absurd system worked because all his patients tried to show signs of recovery, to obtain prescriptions if nothing else. This spared Dr. Yakumin from having to deal with the usual charades of screams and groaning, and his clinic was consequently an oasis of tranquillity.

The Slaughterman’s Daughter, p. 258

TSD Quote of the Day, Last Sunday of September 2021

People are pigs. It’s a rotten world.

The Slaughterman’s Daughter, p. 218

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #165: GOING WIDE

LOOOOVE this prompt. Simply love.

Thank you, P.A. Moed.

Yesterday, self was at Cal Shakes’ only production for 2021: The Winter’s Tale. Last year they were forced to cancel their entire season. Wanted to weep.

But whoa, what a way to make a comeback: The Winter’s Tale is ace.

Picnic Grove Next to Bruns Amphitheatre in Orinda

Cal Shakes’s Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly leading the post-play discussion.

The Thrill of Anticipation! Audience files into Bruns Amphitheatre to see Cal Shakes’s first production in two years!

Ayelet Tsabari, Mother

Only a few pages from the end. It’s been quite a journey. Should self give this memoir four or five stars? Somewhere in between.

What is life, anyway? What is it? Isn’t it being rooted to a place, to one particular place? That’s how you “grow” a history, isn’t it?

  • Like many immigrants, I am bound to watch my child grow farther away from me, away from my traditions, my language, and my memories of an Israeli childhood she will never know.

Thanks, and peace, Ayelet.

Sentence of the Day: Ayelet Tsabari

Yes, self is still reading The Art of Leaving because, dammit, self is concerned about this woman narrator, who puts herself in the path of danger whenever she can, seems completely heedless of her physical safety, and loves so many people. Sometimes Tsabari leaves them, and sometimes they leave her, but she is never, ever less than FULLY ENGAGED. So, points to her. MAJOR POINTS.

And self is fascinated by her descriptions of Tel Aviv.

It’s like I’m always waiting for something to happen, ready for a fight, wanting to wage war with the day, the world, or a person; as though a part of me longs for the risk, that shard of glass in the sand that catches your eye, a promise, an assurance that I am alive.

— “Tough Chick,” Essay # 11 in The Art of Leaving

Favorite Reads, So Far 2021

The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal (science fiction)

High as the Waters Rise, by Anja Kampmann (first novel)

Ice Walker: A Polar Bear’s Journey Through the Fragile Arctic, by James Raffan (environment)

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert (environment)

Inferno: The Fiery Destruction of Hamburg, 1943, by Keith Lowe (WWII history)

The Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman (mystery)

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