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.

The Economist: Books of the Year 2020

A list from a list (highly idiosyncratic — in which self decides which kind of writing she’s going to spend most of 2021 doing)

BIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIR

  • A Promised Land, by Barack Obama – “A reminder that the 44th president is one of the best writers ever to serve in that office”
  • Stranger in the Shogun’s City, by Amy Stanley – “The everyday struggles of an obscure woman in Tokyo in the first half of the 19th century”
  • Kiss Myself Goodbye, by Ferdinand Mount – “The hilarious tale of a . . . pathologically inventive aunt in raffish, upper-class Britain either side of the second world war”

HISTORY

  • A House in the Mountains, by Caroline Moorhead – “Weaving deep research into a compelling narrative . . . about four women fighting with the partisans in northern Italy in 1943”
  • Alaric the Goth, by Douglas Bain – “Colorful portrait of the city and empire in the fifth century”

FICTION

  • The Slaughterman’s Daughter, by Yaniv Iczkovits – “Late 19th century picaresque about a Jewish mother in the Pale of Settlement who sets out to retrieve her wayward brother-in-law in Minsk”
  • Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart – “Coming of age in Glasgow in the 1980s”
  • Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar – “Part autobiographical tale about growing up as a Pakistani-American through the age of 9/11 and then Donald Trump”
  • Burnt Sugar, by Avni Doshi – Opens with “I would be lying if I said my mother’s misery has never given me pleasure.”

CULTURE AND IDEAS

  • Leo Tolstoy, by Andrei Zorin – “Weaves together his times, his writing, his faith and his political activism”

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

  • Apollo’s Arrow, by Nicholas Christakis – “the history of plagues”

BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS

  • No Rules Rules, by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer – “The boss of Netflix and his co-author explain how he arrived”

Who Would Make a Better Fabrizio (The Charterhouse of Parma)

Just for fun (because self would rather look at possible Fabrizios than at clowns)

Why do both men wear glasses. Anyhoo, just imagine them without glasses, riding on a horse, saber outstretched.

Self has one more candidate. But she hasn’t found a suitable picture of him. She’ll keep looking.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

How To Be

Fabrizio’s looks save him over and over again. After the defeat of the French, he stumbles across the canteen woman who, despite having lost her cart and her horse, is still intent on protecting him.

Chapter Four, The Charterhous of Parma:

Canteen Woman (That’s all she ever goes by) to Fabrizio: “Get yourself away from this defeated army; find some way out . . . The first chance you get, buy yourself some civilian clothes. Once you’re eight or ten leagues away and you don’t see any more soldiers, take the mail-coach and rest up for a couple of weeks in some nice town where you can eat beefsteaks . . . As soon as you’ve got a gentleman’s clothes on your back, tear up your travel-permit . . . never say you were in battle, and don’t breathe a word about Bonaparte . . . When you want to go back to Paris, get yourself to Versailles first, then enter Paris from that side, walk right in as if you were out for a stroll. Sew your napoleons into your trousers. And above all, when you have to pay for something, don’t let anyone see more than what you need to pay. The saddest thing of all is that people are going to cheat you and gouge you out of all you have, and what will you do once you have no money, when you don’t even know how to take care of yourself?”

Fabrizio: “I want to fight right away”

Good Friday morning. Self spent all last night howling over Chapter Three of The Charterhouse of Parma.

Self will summarize events leading to this chapter.

Fabrizio, hero of the novel, has been trying to join the Battle of Waterloo. He heads towards the scene of battle, but keeps encountering women who point him in the wrong direction because they don’t want a young man so beautiful to die. One, who Stendhal refers to only as “the canteen-woman,” even decides to accompany him, to keep him out of harm’s way.

Chapter Three:

Many delightful conversations later, the canteen-woman caught sight of three or four French soldiers running toward her as fast as they could; she quickly jumped down from her cart and managed to hide fifteen or twenty feet off the road, crouching in a hole where a huge tree had been uprooted. “Now,” Fabrizio decided, “now I’ll find out if I’m a coward!” He stood beside the little cart the canteen-woman had abandoned and drew his saber. The soldiers paid no attention to him and ran past him through the grove to the left of the path.

“Those are our men,” the canteen-woman said calmly . . .

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Last Thursday of August 2020

The Charterhouse of Parma, Chapter Two, ends:

  • An hour before daylight, Fabrizio was on the road again, and by lavishing caresses on his horse, he managed to persuade it to trot. By about five in the morning, he heard the cannonade: Waterloo had begun.

On to Chapter Three!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Charterhouse of Parma, Chapter One

Milan, 1796, at the Palazzo of The Marchese Del Dongo:

Eight days later . . . when it was widely acknowledged that the French were guillotining no one, the Marchese del Dongo returned from Grianta, his castle on Lake Como, where he had valiantly taken refuge at the French army’s approach, abandoning his sister and his loving young wife to the chances of war.

The Shadow King, p. 73

Why is self reading so slowly these days? There was a time when she used to average 60 books/year. Anyhoo, she is absolutely enthralled by her current book, a novel by Maaza Mengiste. Set in  1930s (?) Ethiopia. It’s written in impressionistic style, so the dates don’t matter all that much. It feels very much like one flowing river of memory.

A young servant girl feels a strange connection between herself and the man of the house. The cook tries to set her straight. Meanwhile, her mistress rides across the countryside on a horse, dressed in jodhpurs like a man.

We all know that war destroys mankind, and in spite of their differences in race, creed, and religion, women all across the world despise war because the fruit is nothing but destruction.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

Her Protector’s Pleasure: p. 6, Still in the Male Brothel, Regency England

This book is so exciting! Self hasn’t read a Regency Romp in ages! That’s because lately she’s been reading The Expanse, and watching the series (in, like, 15-minute increments on Amazon Prime, while watering). Steven Strait is FIIIINEEEE! She might check out his tween prep-school/witch movie The Covenant (4% on the Tomato Meter), a movie she never heard of (it might have appeared while she was deep in her Hunger Games phase), not until she started watching The Expanse series.

Back to Her Protector’s Pleasure. Self hasn’t moved very much further, just three pages in. The book started with the MC preparing to enter a male brothel in Regency England (first she’s heard of such) and now, three pages later, the MC is sitting in the parlor. And there’s a very fine description of the setting, such as “sheer ivory panels” and “jewel-toned reclining cushions.”

Very exciting. Hell, yeah. Go to the max, author Grace Callaway!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Her Protector’s Pleasure, p. 3: Male Brothel, Regency England

Reading Cibola Burn and this book concurrently. One is set on a new planet, the other in Regency England. She likes balance in her reading list, obv.

It gives self great pleasure to discover that the MC in Her Protector’s Pleasure is named Marianne, which is a beautiful name, the best. Just sayin’

Marianne, having looked over the — er — merchandise, is asked by her tour guide, the brothel madam:

  • So you’ll take Ernesto?

Boom! #medead

Stay safe, dear blog reades. Stay tuned.

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