Elmore Leonard’s “Fire In the Hole”

Self checked out a collection of Elmore Leonard short stories from the Redwood City Public Library early this year. She hasn’t managed to get to it yet. COVID happened, and then self’s mind flew out the window.

This afternoon, while browsing through her stack of “To Read” books, she encountered the Elmore Leonard collection, and immediately turned to the title story.

Opening line:

  • They had dug coal together as young men and then lost touch over the years.

omg!

Justified!

Justified-promo-art-copyright-FX-Networks

Timothy Olyphand and Walton Goggins! Those two actors were born to play Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder. Did either of the two ever win an Emmy? Did the show itself ever win an Emmy? For the six years of its run, self doesn’t think she ever skipped an episode.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

#backreading The New Yorker, 14 October 2019

Found, in a pile of unread New Yorkers, the issue that lauds Jenny Lewis’s Gilgamesh Retold (available now as an audiobook featuring Jenny reading her own work, on the Carcanet website)

 

It’s partly about George Smith, “an engraver of banknotes,” who “spent his lunch hours at the British Museum, studying its holdings.” Eventually, Smith was hired to “help analyze the thousands of clay shards that had been shipped … ” from “Nineveh, an important city in ancient Mesopotamia … the reason so many tablets had been found in one place was that they were the remains of a renowned library, that of Ashurbanipal, a king of the neo-Assyrian Empire in the seventh century B.C.” The script was written in cuneiform, a script “no one could read.”

The article, by Joan Acocella, is very long. But worth noting is that it reviews Jenny Lewis’s new collection, Gilgamesh Retold. Self has heard Jenny read, and her voice — Shohreh Aghdashloo level.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day: CIBOLA BURN, p. 57

POV: Basia

  • Now their conversations were so careful, it was like the words all had glass bones.

Self has felt, in the last two books, Holden slowly being pushed aside. Holden would be the last person to argue with that. But she can’t help mourning, because he is so earnest and dogged and self feels he deserves better.

It is also frustrating that, so far in Cibola Burn, he and Naomi feel less and less like lovers.

Thinking of Steven Strait, who plays Holden on the TV series. He is the perfect Holden. The earnestness, the willingness to fade into the background, the uncompromising loyalty to his crew, the inherent decency — Strait embodies all of these.

Self has not seen a single one of his movies! He has had steady work, but he was off her radar. Until now.

It appears he was in 10,000 BC, Roland Emmerich’s flame-out. This movie sounds so cheesy, self feels she just has to see it. Imagine casting two beautiful people and then covering them with animal skin and mud, to make them look less beautiful. Why then go to all the trouble of casting people who look like that? Wouldn’t it have been easier to find actors whose faces would look the same, whether or not they were covered in mud? Apologies for the digression.

TV Naomi has a lot of fire! She likes the way Dominique Tipper’s and Strait’s performances play off each other.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Generation Ship Nauvoo

Abaddon’s Gate, p. 53:

He passed through the transfer station and down towards his office. The rooms and corridors here were all built aslant, waiting for the spin gravity that would never come.

Must take a moment to thank the authors for giving ships names like Rocinante, the Somnambulist, and the Y Que. Even Nauvoo has something inexplicably romantic about it.

Unfortunately, the Nauvoo is re-named the Behemoth. And there’s nothing romantic about that.

What’s in a ship’s name? Something very, very important. Millenium Falcon is a dud. The Nostromo is fabulous.

Self is not above borrowing for her ship’s names: Kobayashi Maru (thank you, Star Trek training exercise) and Mohenjo Daro.

Self’s great-grandfather wrote for an underground newspaper in Manila. He used a pen name: Ang Kiukok.

In her next science fiction story, she’ll use Ang Kiukok as the name for a very wee ship. A racer, maybe. She’ll connect the two words and name her ship Angkiukok.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

The Thirty-Sixth Hole

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family is an extraordinary book. And she didn’t even pick it up because it was an Oprah Book Club selection. She was just working off a list. In between tearing through science fiction, she decided to read nonfiction.

She’s on Chapter 20, in which Margaret, the older Galvin girl, is whisked off, at just shy of 14, to live with a family she barely knows, a family of enormous wealth, who started off on the same economic plane as the Galvins but found luck, such enormous luck.

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Sam Gary was “a natural risk-taker. For years, he had been known around Denver as Dry Hole Sam … In the mid-1960s, when everyone in the oil exploration business was drilling in Wyoming, Sam started drilling just north of the state line in the southeastern corner of Montana. Sam drilled thirty-five dry holes.” — p. 158

  • On June 29, 1967, one of the new wells — Sam’s thirty-sixth try — struck oil in Bell Creek Field in Montana. Sam set up four-hundred new wells, hanging on to 30 percent ownership.

Sam Gary was “about the same age as” Margaret’s father. By the time Margaret moves in with the Garys, they have a house in Denver with a housekeeper, a cook, and various other servants. They own a condo in the main drag of Vail and spend every weekend on their hundred-acre ranch in Montana, just up against Flathead Lake.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Read more books.

 

Emily Bernard, Winner of the 2020 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose

The Prize was announced by the L. A. Times on April 17.

Read about other prizes in the full article here.

What the judges had to say about Emily Bernard’s book:

  • In 12 connected essays, Bernard captured her experience with race in Black Is the Body: Stories From My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time and Mine. The panel of judges that awarded Bernard the Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose said: “With deceptively simple and luminous prose, Emily Bernard invites us to inhabit her life as she poses perilous questions seemingly as simple as ‘when is a doll just a doll,’ and pushes ever deeper refusing easy solutions. This is a beautiful, important collection of essays.”

Kudos to this beautiful writer, as well as to the other nominees and winners, including the great Walter Mosley, winner of the Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement. Mosley, who now resides in New York City, is the “author of more than 43 books.” He is best known “for his mystery series featuring detective Easy Rawlins, a private detective in south-central Los Angeles.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. And buy books.

 

Beginning CALIBAN’S WAR (Book 2 of The Expanse)

What self absolutely loves about The Expanse (she’s talking just about the book series, not the show: she’s watched all of Season 4 and a few episodes of Season 1 but stopped watching when she got into the books) is how good the authors are at describing the technology in a way that doesn’t seem clunky, that makes it seem like a natural, evolutionary thing. And then, all the things that go wrong — when things go wrong, they go wrong spectacularly. And you have to fall right back on human ingenuity. Decision-making is always key.

p. 12:

… just as her squad got to the firing line, her suit squealed a jamming warning at her. The top-down vanished as she lost contact with the satellite. Her team’s life signs and equipment status reports went dead as her link to their suits was cut off. The faint static of the open comm channel disappeared, leaving an even more unsettling silence.

This particular marine eventually locates her CO:

She ran up and placed her helmet against his. “What the fuck is going on, El Tee?” she shouted.

The economy of the language is so very efficient. Of course, with technology going on the blink, the marine has to put her helmet against her CO’s helmet and shout in order to be heard at all: yet the gesture feels so very intimate. It also feels true.

It is details such as this that have made of self a convert to this series. She’s seriously considering ordering Book # 4, which she has never done in her life — she has never before wanted to rip through all the books of a series (there are nine), in one go.

Stay tuned.

Emotions: Language Descriptors For

Mama’s Last Hug is fascinating, how well it points out the limits of human understanding (i.e., Man is always front and center and human emotional behavior is always the benchmark for analyzing other species)

Self can’t help continuously drawing comparisons with . . . never mind.

p. 54:

  • If it is true that the environment shapes facial expressions, then children who are born blind and deaf should show no expressions at all, or only strange ones, because they’ve never seen the faces of people around them. Yet in studies of these children, they laugh, smile, and cry in the same way and under the same circumstances as any typical child. Since their situation excludes learning from models, how could anyone doubt that emotional expressions are part of biology?

Stay tuned.

Approaching a Quarantined Planet

DSCN0497

Permission to approach the
planet is denied. Any attempt
to do so will be met with lethal
force as per scientific devolved
powers. Isolation of experi-
mental habitat is paramount.
You are respectfully requested
to alter your course effective
immediately.

DSCN9984

The entity that communicates with the humans is Dr. Kern.

She has a parallel personality, Eliza Kern, who is mad.

The text is presented in two columns for each communication.

Love, truly love, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time.

Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: THE RUN OF HIS LIFE

p. 155:

That night I took the red-eye home to New York (The in-flight movie was Naked Gun 33 1/3, starring, among others, O. J. Simpson)

There is a rich vein of irony running through The Run of His Life: The People vs O. J. Simpson. Toobin mines this for all it’s worth.

This book: classic with a capital ‘C.’

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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