The Noose

Self pulled a switcheroo one sleepless night and decided to read Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy. Something about the prose, something about the hour, something about her mood — she put aside Chris Offutt for later.

The past few days, she’s been reading about idealistic young Ethel Rosenberg, and she hopes her heart doesn’t break too much later, when Ethel is sentenced. It’s bad enough reading about what a hard worker she was, how determined she was to be a good wife and mother, and how all her life she yearned for music and scrimped and saved to buy herself a piano.

Of Julius and Ethel, it is pretty clear that Ethel is probably more intelligent. Definitely, she’s the one more rooted in family (as the woman usually is, even now). So when Julius gets flattered into passing on information to a Russian agent on p. 58, it is quite a gut punch.

Julius Rosenberg to his Russian “handler,” Alexander Feklisov, who was four years Julius’s senior, who’d “been working in New York since 1940”:

  • “I know you may not be aware of it, but our meetings are among the happiest moments of all my life . . . I have a wonderful wife and son whom I adore but you are the only person who knows all my secrets and it’s very important to be able to confide to someone.”

Damn you, Julius Rosenberg and also damn you, Alexander Feklisov!

The Russians expressed skepticism, remarking with cool detachment that his “health is nothing splendid.”

The Horror of Florida

Florida County Fined for Mandate

(Wall Street Journal, Thursday, 14 October 2021, p. A6)

The Florida Department of Health fined Leon County $3.57 million for requiring county staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The northwest Florida county, which includes the state capital of Tallahassee, in late July required its employees to show verification of vaccination by Oct. 1, and shortly after that deadline fired 14 workers for not following the mandate, according to the state health department.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May signed legislation banning vaccine passports in the state, saying lawmakers were protecting residents’ personal choice. There is a $5,000 fine for every violation.

Past Squares 8: HATS

How much fun is it to join the Squares Challenge? Super super fun!

This month, the theme is the PAST (or Past Squares, your choice!)

Self has been looking back at the memorable exhibits she’s seen over the years.

In 2017, the Legion of Honor had an exhibit on Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade. Self had a blast! Here are a few pictures from the exhibit:

Elizabeth Waring in The Butcher’s Boy

When self was reading Michael Connelly’s great introduction to this novel, she was very excited to read that the plot actually has two main characters: the professional hit man, and a woman, Elizabeth Waring, the DOJ analyst who’s on his trail.

She is so happy that Elizabeth is introduced almost right away. It’s a very mundane scene: as a relatively new addition to the department, she has to hone her chops by reading over piles of reports to sniff out the details that seem “extra” suspicious. She consults with a colleague, who looks over her “possibles” and then picks out one — a very ordinary case — and says, why don’t you look into this one?

There is no reason on God’s earth why that agent should pick out that one case, but it’s pretty exciting when he tells Elizabeth, “Just a hunch.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd Michael Connelly Quote of the Day

Economy creates momentum. The story gathers speed and moves with an unalterable urgency. All characters, all action, relentlessly moving toward the same vanishing point on the horizon.

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

Why has no one made this series into a movie? The chase is made for the big screen. Think The Terminator, only no robots and no time travel.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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.

Moon Palace, by Paul Auster: At Last, Self’s First Auster

It was the summer that men first walked on the moon. I was very young back then, but I did not believe there would ever be a future. I wanted to live dangerously, to push myself as far as I could go, and then see what happened to me when I got there.

Moon Palace, p. 1

People We Meet on Vacation, p. 317

Yes, compared to self’s reading pace on The Slaughterman’s Daughter, she is practically on fire reading this, because dammit how long does it take to get to HEA? 350 pages? Are you kidding? Her jaw is dropping from disbelief.

Don’t get her wrong, the writing is engaging, but when you’re anxious to finish so you can get started on Paul Auster, and the two main characters have been PDA’ing all over the place, to have the narrator stop dead and ask these questions IS MORE THAN A LITTLE RIDICULOUS:

  • Do I want to have kids?
  • Do I want to live in a seventies quad-level in Linfield, Ohio?
  • Do I want any of the things that Alex craves for his life?

Especially when you know, and the narrator knows, and even the narrator’s love interest knows, that the answer to all three questions is Yes Yes Yes. But, damn, there are still 60 pages to go? Because we have to know exactly what went down two years ago that had these two not speaking for two years? Is Emily Henry really going to tease us for 60 more pages about that blessed event? Can these two people really be about to fight AGAIN? Can one person be saying (only for the nth time) “No, I have to go” and and can the other person really be staring dumfounded (also for the nth time)? Will the next 60 pages be about how they get back to “I love you” when they’ve ALREADY said it. How, how, can love interest be telling narrator, “You need to figure things out. Don’t talk to me” and can she really be breaking down in tears (for the nth time)

Is this book going to get three or two stars? That would all depend on whether the Blessed Event that has been teased since page 1 is indeed worth reading 350 pages to get to. Self has a sneaking suspicion that the author had, at one time in her life, a super-duper time in Croatia and wrote this book just so she could unleash 50 pages at the end about how fabulous Croatia is.

So here we are again, last 50 pages. Here we go, yet another trip, yet another hotel, all the usual funny details (ha ha). The narrator and love interest are fighting (only for the nth time).

SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT

What happened two years ago was: they both realized they were in love with each other. Oh.

Self really wants to know how that led to NOT SPEAKING TO EACH OTHER FOR TWO YEARS.

So this is what happens (you’ll note self put SPOILER ALERT above):

They kiss, and the love interest says, “We can’t do this.” (right after a passionate kiss). The narrator scoots away from him, so embarrassed.

The love interest looks miserable and says “I just mean . . . “

And the narrator says, “I get it.”

And THAT IS HOW THEY ENDED UP NOT SPEAKING FOR TWO YEARS.

UGH. AWFUL. These are two of the biggest blockheads in America. Funny, you would think Americans would be a lot more sophisticated. Then again, they’re from Linfield, Ohio. This keeps being brought up, throughout the novel. As if Linfield, Ohio were an awful penance.

Self cannot believe she’s on p. 328 and it is happening all over again. She checks to see how many pages are left. 30 pages. So they have to not talk for 29 pages, most likely. Narrator thinks of love interest, thinks of their kiss, blah blah blah. Do they just walk away from each other, blah blah blah. She should have thought it through blah blah blah (for the nth time)

So here we go, only 15 pages from the end. Narrator goes into a bar, sees the love interest. And SHE WANTS TO BOLT.

And then the love interest looks up and sees her. And they stare at each other without speaking, FOR TWO WHOLE PAGES. Narrator has the GALL to think: My heart is splitting in two places (You should see the inside of self’s head. That’s ALREADY split in two places. No, three). And then she is RUNNING OUT OF THE BAR (Figures, there’s eight more pages, after all. Oh, WAIT. There’s an EPILOGUE. Which seems to be de rigeur ever since The Hunger Games)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Catherine: The End of Men

There’s a vaccine. It’s finally happened. It’s taken nearly two years but for a long time it seemed like this day would never come. I thought I would feel ecstatic but I’m furious. I’m incandescent with rage. I actually threw a plate this morning. Why now? Why were they able to discover it now? Why not before? The statement from the woman who discovered it, Dr. Lisa Michael, makes it sound like it was a breeze, like she was noodling around for a bit in the lab and then it just sort of appeared.

The End of Men, p. 246

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.

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