richardderus's second 2021 thread

Esto es una continuación del tema richardderus's first 2021 thread.

Este tema fue continuado por richardderus's third 2021 thread.

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richardderus's second 2021 thread

Ene 10, 4:28pm


Editado: Ene 24, 10:53am

In 2021, I stated a goal of posting 15 book reviews a month on my blog. This year's total of 180 (there are a lot of individual stories that don't have entries in the LT database so I didn't post them here; I need to do more to sync the data this year) reads shows it's doable, and I've done better than that in the past.

I've Pearl Ruled books I'm not enjoying, but making notes on Goodreads & LibraryThing about why I'm abandoning the read has been less successful. I give up. I just don't care about this goal, so out it goes.

My Last Thread of 2009 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2010 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2011 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2012 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2013 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2014 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2015 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2016 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2017 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2018 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2019 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2020 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.

First five reviews? 1st 2021 thread..


6 Station Eleven, even as a re-read, ain't workin', post 8.

7 Ace opened my blinkered eyes, post 37.

8 Summer of the Cicadas was a hybrid good-with-bad read, post 47.

9 The Problem with Mistletoe was okay, post 62.

10 Shuggie Bain delighted and depressed me, post 65.

11 When Brooklyn Was Queer delighted me, post 66.

12 A Very English Scandal was revolting yet fascinating, post 67.

13 Condominium was...okay, post 89.

14 Libriomancer is a solid series-starter story, post 116.

15 Blackfish City was an excellent read, post 144.

16 Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks made my evening brighter, post 152.

17 The Pallbearer was pretty damn good, post 162.

18 Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait was entertaining, post 235.

19 The Devil in Velvet really enthralled me, post 236.

20 Salt: A World History kept me reading, post 237.

21 Tainted Witness infuriated me, post 239.

22 Ask Again, Yes got 4*, post 247.

23 Stars in his Eyes was decent for free, post 250.

24 The Road to Urbino felt...weird, post 270.

25 The Goddess Abides brought Pearl Buck's amazing writerly chops back to me, post 283.

Editado: Ene 10, 4:57pm

2020's five-star or damn-near five-star reviews totaled 46. Almost half were short stories and/or series reads. While a lot of authors saw their book launches rescheduled, publishers canceled their tours, and everyone was hugely distracted by the nightmare of COVID-19 (I had it, you do not want it), no one can fault the astoundingly wonderful literature we got this year. My own annual six-stars-of-five read was Zaina Arafat's extraordinary debut novel YOU EXIST TOO MUCH (review lives here), a thirtysomething Palestinian woman telling me my life, my family, my very experience of relationships of all sorts. I cannot stress enough to you, this is the book you need to read in 2021. A sixtysomething man is here, in your email/feed, saying: This is the power. This is the glory. The writing I look for, the read I long to find, and all of it delivered in a young woman's debut novel. This is as good an omen for the Great Conjunction's power being bent to the positive outcomes as any I've seen.

In 2020, I posted over 180 reviews here. In 2021, my goals are: –to post 150 reviews on my blog
–to post at least 99 three-sentence Burgoines
–to complete at least 190 total reviews

Most important to me is to report on DRCs I don't care enough about to review at my usual level. I don't want to keep just leaving them unacknowledged. There are publishers who want to see a solid, positive relationship between DRCs granted and reviews posted, and I do not blame them a bit.

Ask and ye shall receive! Nathan Burgoine's Twitter account hath taught me. See post #7 below.

Editado: Ene 10, 4:56pm

I stole this from PC's thread. I like these prompts!
1. Name any book you read at any time that was published in the year you turned 18:
Faggots by Larry Kramer
2. Name a book you have on in your TBR pile that is over 500 pages long:
The Story of China: The Epic History of a World Power from the Middle Kingdom to Mao and the China Dream
by Michael Wood
3. What is the last book you read with a mostly blue cover?
Wasps' Nest by Agatha Christie
4. What is the last book you didn’t finish (and why didn’t you finish it?)
The Perfect Fascist by Victoria de Grazia; paper book of 512pp, can't hold it
5. What is the last book that scared the bejeebers out of you?
Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump
6. Name the book that read either this year or last year that takes place geographically closest to where you live? How close would you estimate it was?
The Trump book; set in Queens and the Hamptons, so just down the road a piece
7.What were the topics of the last two nonfiction books you read?
The last successful rebellion on US soil and caffeine
8. Name a recent book you read which could be considered a popular book?
The Only Good Indians, a horror novel that's really, really good
9. What was the last book you gave a rating of 5-stars to? And when did you read it?
Restored, a Regency-era romantic historical novel about men in their 40s seizing their second chance at luuuv
10. Name a book you read that led you to specifically to read another book (and what was the other book, and what was the connection)
Potiki, which Kerry Aluf gave me; led me to read The Uncle's Story by Witi Ihimaera
11. Name the author you have most recently become infatuated with.
P. Djeli Clark
12. What is the setting of the first novel you read this year?
Hawaii and PNW
13. What is the last book you read, fiction or nonfiction, that featured a war in some way (and what war was it)?
The Fighting Bunch; WWII
14. What was the last book you acquired or borrowed based on an LTer’s review or casual recommendation? And who was the LTer, if you care to say.
There isn't enough space for all the book-bullets y'all careless, inconsiderate-of-my-poverty fiends pepper me with
15. What the last book you read that involved the future in some way?
Mammoths of the Great Plains by Eleanor Arnason
16. Name the last book you read that featured a body of water, river, marsh, or significant rainfall?
Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky by David Connerly Nahm
17. What is last book you read by an author from the Southern Hemisphere?
Red Heir by Lisa Henry
18. What is the last book you read that you thought had a terrible cover?
please don't ask me this
19. Who was the most recent dead author you read? And what year did they die?
Agatha Christie, 1976
20. What was the last children’s book (not YA) you read?
good goddesses, I don't remember...Goodnight Moon to my daughter?
21. What was the name of the detective or crime-solver in the most recent crime novel you read?
Poirot by Dame Ags
22. What was the shortest book of any kind you’ve read so far this year?
The World Well Lost, ~28pp
23. Name the last book that you struggled with (and what do you think was behind the struggle?)
Lon Chaney Speaks, because I really, really don't like comic books
24. What is the most recent book you added to your library here on LT?
see #23
25. Name a book you read this year that had a visual component (i.e. illustrations, photos, art, comics)
see #23
I liked Sandy's Bonus Question for the meme above, so I adopted it:

26. What is the title and year of the oldest book you have reviewed on LT in 2020? (modification in itals)
The Sittaford Mystery by Dame Aggie, 1931.

Editado: Ene 10, 4:53pm

Every winner of the Booker Prize since its inception in 1969

1969: P. H. Newby, Something to Answer For
1970: Bernice Rubens, The Elected Member
1970: J. G. Farrell, Troubles ** (awarded in 2010 as the Lost Man Booker Prize) -
1971: V. S. Naipaul, In a Free State
1972: John Berger, G.
1973: J. G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur
1974: Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist ... and Stanley Middleton, Holiday
1975: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust
1976: David Storey, Saville
1977: Paul Scott, Staying On
1978: Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea *
1979: Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore
1980: William Golding, Rites of Passage
1981: Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children *
1982: Thomas Keneally, Schindler's Ark
1983: J. M. Coetzee, Life & Times of Michael K
1984: Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac *
1985: Keri Hulme, The Bone People **
1986: Kingsley Amis, The Old Devils
1987: Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger *
1988: Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda *
1989: Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day *
1990: A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance *
1991: Ben Okri, The Famished Road
1992: Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient * ... and Barry Unsworth, Sacred Hunger
1993: Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
1994: James Kelman, How late it was, how late
1995: Pat Barker, The Ghost Road *
1996: Graham Swift, Last Orders
1997: Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
1998: Ian McEwan, Amsterdam
1999: J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace
2000: Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin *
2001: Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang *
2002: Yann Martel, Life of Pi
2003: DBC Pierre, Vernon God Little **
2004: Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty *
2005: John Banville, The Sea
2006: Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
2007: Anne Enright, The Gathering
2008: Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
2009: Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
2010: Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question *
2011: Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending **
2012: Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
2013: Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
2014: Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
2015: Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings *
2016: Paul Beatty, The Sellout
2017: George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo *
2018: Anna Burns, Milkman
2019: Margaret Atwood, The Testaments, and Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other
2020: Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain *

Links are to my reviews
* Read, but not reviewed
** Owned, but not read

Editado: Ene 10, 4:52pm

I really hadn't considered doing this until recently...tracking my Pulitzer Prize in Fiction winners read, and Booker Prize winners read might actually prove useful to me in planning my reading.

1918 HIS FAMILY - Ernest Poole **
1919 THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS - Booth Tarkington *
1921 THE AGE OF INNOCENCE - Edith Wharton *
1922 ALICE ADAMS - Booth Tarkington **
1923 ONE OF OURS - Willa Cather **
1924 THE ABLE MCLAUGHLINS - Margaret Wilson
1925 SO BIG - Edna Ferber *
1926 ARROWSMITH - Sinclair Lewis (Declined) *
1927 EARLY AUTUMN - Louis Bromfield
1928 THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY - Thornton Wilder *
1929 SCARLET SISTER MARY - Julia Peterkin
1930 LAUGHING BOY - Oliver Lafarge
1931 YEARS OF GRACE - Margaret Ayer Barnes
1932 THE GOOD EARTH - Pearl Buck *
1933 THE STORE - Thomas Sigismund Stribling
1934 LAMB IN HIS BOSOM - Caroline Miller
1935 NOW IN NOVEMBER - Josephine Winslow Johnson
1936 HONEY IN THE HORN - Harold L Davis
1937 GONE WITH THE WIND - Margaret Mitchell *
1938 THE LATE GEORGE APLEY - John Phillips Marquand
1939 THE YEARLING - Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings *
1940 THE GRAPES OF WRATH - John Steinbeck *
1942 IN THIS OUR LIFE - Ellen Glasgow *
1943 DRAGON'S TEETH - Upton Sinclair
1944 JOURNEY IN THE DARK - Martin Flavin
1945 A BELL FOR ADANO - John Hersey *
1947 ALL THE KING'S MEN - Robert Penn Warren *
1948 TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC - James Michener
1949 GUARD OF HONOR - James Gould Cozzens
1950 THE WAY WEST - A.B. Guthrie
1951 THE TOWN - Conrad Richter
1952 THE CAINE MUTINY - Herman Wouk
1953 THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA - Ernest Hemingway *
1955 A FABLE - William Faulkner *
1956 ANDERSONVILLE - McKinlay Kantor *
1958 A DEATH IN THE FAMILY - James Agee *
1960 ADVISE AND CONSENT - Allen Drury *
1961 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD - Harper Lee *
1962 THE EDGE OF SADNESS - Edwin O'Connor
1963 THE REIVERS - William Faulkner *
1965 THE KEEPERS OF THE HOUSE - Shirley Ann Grau
1967 THE FIXER - Bernard Malamud
1969 HOUSE MADE OF DAWN - N Scott Momaday
1972 ANGLE OF REPOSE - Wallace Stegner *
1973 THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER - Eudora Welty *
1975 THE KILLER ANGELS - Jeff Shaara *
1976 HUMBOLDT'S GIFT - Saul Bellow *
1978 ELBOW ROOM - James Alan McPherson
1980 THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG - Norman Mailer *
1981 A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES - John Kennedy Toole *
1982 RABBIT IS RICH - John Updike *
1983 THE COLOR PURPLE - Alice Walker *
1984 IRONWEED - William Kennedy *
1985 FOREIGN AFFAIRS - Alison Lurie
1986 LONESOME DOVE - Larry McMurtry *
1987 A SUMMONS TO MEMPHIS - Peter Taylor
1988 BELOVED - Toni Morrison *
1991 RABBIT AT REST - John Updike *
1992 A THOUSAND ACRES - Jane Smiley *
1994 THE SHIPPING NEWS - E Annie Proulx *
1995 THE STONE DIARIES - Carol Shields
1996 INDEPENDENCE DAY - Richard Ford
1997 MARTIN DRESSLER - Steven Millhauser
1998 AMERICAN PASTORAL - Philip Roth
1999 THE HOURS - Michael Cunningham
2002 EMPIRE FALLS - Richard Russo
2003 MIDDLESEX - Jeffrey Eugenides *
2004 THE KNOWN WORLD - Edward P. Jones
2005 GILEAD - Marilynne Robinson
2006 MARCH - Geraldine Brooks
2007 THE ROAD - Cormac McCarthy
2009 OLIVE KITTERIDGE - Elizabeth Strout
2010 TINKERS - Paul Harding
2011 A VISIT FROM THE GOOD SQUAD - Jennifer Egan
2013 ORPHAN MASTER'S SON - Adam Johnson
2014 THE GOLDFINCH - Donna Tartt
2015 ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE - Anthony Doerr **
2016 THE SYMPATHIZER - Viet Thanh Nguyen **
2017 THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD - Colson Whitehead **
2018 LESS - Andrew Sean Greer *
2019 THE OVERSTORY - Richard Powers *
2020 THE NICKEL BOYS - Colson Whitehead

Links are to my reviews
* Read, but not reviewed
** Owned, but not read

Editado: Ene 10, 4:47pm

Author 'Nathan Burgoine posted this simple, direct method of not getting paralyzed by the prospect of having to write reviews. The Three-Sentence Review is, as he notes, very helpful and also simple to achieve. I get completely unmanned at the idea of saying something trenchant about each book I read, when there often just isn't that much to I can use this structure to say what I think's important and not try to dig for more.

Think about using it yourselves!

Ene 10, 4:38pm

6 Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Rating: 4* of five

I don't think an end-of-the-world narrative, one with resourceful preppers and some truly vile cultists, was a great choice for me to pick up to keep myself from doomscrolling. Too many parallels with COVID-19, QAnon, the Proud Boys, and the basket of deplorables the world saw the US spew forth onto our Capitol. I wish I thought these upheavals were the purge but I'm very sure it's the surface suppuration over the deep, diseased wound on the Body Politic.

Ene 10, 4:38pm

Happy new one!

Ene 10, 4:44pm

Happy new thread Richard, my dear friend.

Ene 10, 4:58pm

And a smooch for the new thread.

Ene 10, 5:03pm

>11 katiekrug: *smooch*

>10 johnsimpson: Thanks, John, better days to come eh?

>9 figsfromthistle: Hi Anita! Thanks.

Ene 10, 5:05pm

>12 richardderus:, i hope so dear friend.

Ene 10, 5:09pm

Happy New Thread, Richard! Sorry about your timing with Station Eleven. I'm halfway through a live-streaming of my great-nephew in a high school musical, Disney's Descendants, which is as awful as you might imagine in plot and substance, although the kids are doing a decent job of it and I'm enjoying watching the great-nephew. So you behold me seeking other sustenance to keep me semi-focused. And it's definitely not doom-scrolling...

Ene 10, 5:09pm

Good grief

1/10/2021 and you are on thread 2~

Ene 10, 5:26pm

Happy new thread!

>8 richardderus: I love her novels!

Ene 10, 6:42pm

>16 ChelleBearss: Hi Chelle! Re-reading that one, after devouring in 2015, was ill-advised, I fear.

>15 mckait: Heh

>14 ronincats: Sounds like a good way to spend your day to me, Roni.

>13 johnsimpson: :-)

Ene 10, 6:47pm

Happy new thread!

Ene 10, 7:46pm

Happy new thread, Richard. Hope your better days come soon.

Ene 10, 8:00pm

Happy new thread!

Ene 10, 8:11pm

Happy new one, RD.

Surely life will be more amenable after 20 January?

Ene 10, 8:14pm

Happy New Thread, and I totally appreciate the sentiment of your topper. :)

Ene 10, 8:25pm

Happy New Thread!

Ene 10, 8:36pm

Congratulations to you, RD, and to your many friends for this splendid new thread. Hope you can maintain your equilibrium through this trying period.

Ene 10, 11:31pm

Happy new thread, Richard! I note that Afro Puffs is the second in a series. Have you also read The Brothers Jetstream? Is it necessary? Recommended?

Ene 11, 12:56am

Happy new one, Rdear.

Ene 11, 2:37am

Happy new thread
>8 richardderus: so a good book with some bad timing?

Editado: Ene 11, 3:14am

Happy new thread Richard!

>1 richardderus: No? Surely it isn't that bad?

Ene 11, 4:29am

>8 richardderus: day-um. That is a prescient read. Let's hope it doesn't get to that. I read that book when I was in a pretty messed up frame of mind (was off coffee AND alcohol for fear of looming insanity, and had to pretend to relatives that it was by choice- lol). But, I got through it (the book, and the fear of the looming insanity). Enjoyed the book :)

Editado: Ene 11, 6:07am

Happy new thread, Richard dear!

>8 richardderus: I have read it last year, as part of my pandemic reads. Not the best for now, but probably better than doomscolling. I like that word, try to keep myself from it...

Ene 11, 8:07am

Hiya, RD. Yesterday's cautious optimism for you didn't pan out, I see.

>8 richardderus: Hmmm. I hope you have something less upsetting to read.


Ene 11, 10:48am

>31 karenmarie: Hi Horrible! I wasn't too far in before I realized my mistake...the scene with Jeevan and the shopping carts was when I thought "ooohhh ya know what I made a booboo coming back here right now" and turned on Time Team.

>30 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita, and here's to a better week ahead. "Doomscrolling" is a great word, isn't it? I hope it becomes obsolete soon.

>29 LovingLit: The book's wonderful. I think it's also prescient, though it's nowhere near that bad yet. I'm like you in the Dark Days, just not off coffee (!?!?)...though alcohol's off the menu as long as I need Fentanyl as I do not wish to die. It is still on my re-read list, quite a place of honor. I'm not gonna use my remaining reading time to re-read too many books!

>28 humouress: *smooch* Happiness may flow now that La Overkill has minions and an octopus metaphor in my new thread.

Ene 11, 10:55am

>27 Helenliz: An *excellent* book, and truly awful timing, Helen. It was a foolish idea born of a desire to use comparative awfulness to stop obsessing over the downturn in public decency.

Won't do that again.

>26 Ameise1: Thank you, Barbara! And a happier new week than last to us all.

>25 swynn: Thank you! It is, I haven't, and I don't think so; I'll go back and pick it up, certainly, but I didn't enjoy this read any the less for seeing people clearly known better to the characters than to me in side-light.

Ene 11, 10:58am

>24 weird_O: Thanks, Bill, and a lovely wish that is. I am sure equilibrium will return. Other issues are pressing on me as well, so I respond more severely than I would in less multistressed times.

>23 SilverWolf28: Thank you most kindly, Silver.

>22 mahsdad: I couldn't, and can't, think of one more completely representative of my current mood. Any ideas?

Ene 11, 11:02am

>21 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! I think it will be better after that because the chaotic and destructive source of the present critical moment will not have the levers of government to yank us around with; but the people who follow that vile cretin aren't going to transreverse their engrams and become decent.

>20 drneutron: Thank you, Jim!

>19 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg, and welcome!

>18 quondame: Hello Susan, thanks, and I want to know how you got that picture of me....

Ene 11, 11:03am

>8 richardderus: My book group went through a series of "Plague" novel including Station Eleven and A Journal of the Plague Year among others..

As the historian says "It's all about then - - - and its all about now"

(Making a note to keep Lord of the Flies and John Dollar out of Richard's reach)

Editado: Ene 11, 8:07pm

7 Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that’s obsessed with sexual attraction, and what the ace perspective can teach all of us about desire and identity.

What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through life not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about gender roles, about romance and consent, and the pressures of society? This accessible examination of asexuality shows that the issues that aces face—confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships—are the same conflicts that nearly all of us will experience. Through a blend of reporting, cultural criticism, and memoir, Ace addresses the misconceptions around the “A” of LGBTQIA and invites everyone to rethink pleasure and intimacy.

Journalist Angela Chen creates her path to understanding her own asexuality with the perspectives of a diverse group of asexual people. Vulnerable and honest, these stories include a woman who had blood tests done because she was convinced that “not wanting sex” was a sign of serious illness, and a man who grew up in a religious household and did everything “right,” only to realize after marriage that his experience of sexuality had never been the same as that of others. Disabled aces, aces of color, gender-nonconforming aces, and aces who both do and don’t want romantic relationships all share their experiences navigating a society in which a lack of sexual attraction is considered abnormal. Chen’s careful cultural analysis explores how societal norms limit understanding of sex and relationships and celebrates the breadth of sexuality and queerness.


My Review:
This is the most eye-opening read of 2020. "The map is not the territory" is a truism I'd stopped short of applying to sexual attraction. Behavior, yes, but not attraction, that "energy {aces} have no idea what {allos} are talking about." Attraction is an energy; I'm so deep in its gravity well, see the world so completely through its lens, that I'm blankly surprised that others don't. Author Chen continues my seventh-decade growth spurt.

Aces! Allos! Things I'd sorta-kinda heard about a while ago, maybe, but had zero context for. This is fascinating.
The ace world is not an obligation. Nobody needs to identify, nobody is trapped, nobody needs to stay forever and pledge allegiance. The words are gifts. If you know which terms to search, you know how to find others who might have something to teach.

As an old queer gent, one whose queerness goes beyond being vanilla-gay, I've been in the place of ace and aro people, being judged and branded as abnormal within a community that is itself branded as abnormal by outsiders. The principal issue is, if we are made invisible, or mainstreamed as we now call it, those of us in actual danger of our lives (in intolerant countries like Dagestan and Nigeria) do not realize there is a large and thriving world where we're simply ourselves, not monstrous or dangerous or Other:
Normal is often treated as a moral judgment, when it is often simply a statistical matter. The question of what everyone else is doing is less important than the question of what works for the two people in the actual relationship. It matters that everyone’s needs are carefully considered and respected, not that everyone is doing the same thing.
“It seems that the message is ‘we have liberated our sexuality, therefore we must now celebrate it and have as much sex as we want,’” says Jo, an ace policy worker in Australia. “Except ‘as much sex as we want’ is always lots of sex and not no sex, because then we are oppressed, or possibly repressed, and we’re either not being our true authentic selves, or we haven’t discovered this crucial side of ourselves that is our sexuality in relation to other people, or we haven’t grown up properly or awakened yet.”

I wanted lots of sex most of my life; I'm old enough now that the Urge is muted, and doesn't bedevil my every thought. I have a partner whose presence in my world is a cause for joy and celebration. He's a gift. And also mixed race, three and a half decades younger than me, and just starting what I hope will be a long and happy career as a chef. I won't be there to see his full-on selfhood; I will be in his full-on selfhood because our relationship has formed each of us as we are now. I'm a whole lot nicer with him than I was without him.

We're neither ace nor aro; we're Othered by the nature of our connection. And, like Author Chen's subject, intergenerational love is not visible or, when revealed, well thought of. He's an adult, was when we met, but there lingers about an old man and a young man the disagreeable whiff of pedophilia. People I consider dear and close friends simply clam up and/or change the subject when I talk about him, have never ever one time asked how he's doing on the frint lines of the plague's workers (whom do you imagine makes the delivery food you're eating?), where if he was a she they'd be solicitous and interested.

As bitter as that sounds, the pain of it is old and familiar, as it has always been this way. It's simply a fact that Author Chen presents in a slightly different light, one that shines as bright on bedrock homophobia as it does on prejudices more visible:
Picture whiteness as a neutral backdrop, a white wall. It is easier to paint a white wall light blue than it is to paint a dark green wall light blue. The dominant media is filled with images of many types of white people; white people, for the most part, have the freedom to be anything they like. People of color need to scrub away the dark green—racial stereotypes and expectations—before determining whether we are really ace.

For white read straight; and then examine y'all's consciences.

The basic argument Author Chen makes in this deeply felt, thoroughly researched book is, to me at least, one that includes me at every level:
Relationships should always be a game of mix and match, not a puzzle that you have to perfectly snap into, or a Jenga tower that will collapse as soon as you try to wiggle one block out of place. Customizability is the best part, yet most people try so hard to make their relationship stick to its premade form, a one-size-fits-all shape. Many people don’t take advantage of their own freedom.

All the fascinating stuff about people not like me aside, I read this book to hear that phrase, the simple formulation that explains me to myself. I haven't been on Earth this long not to realize when I'm being spoken to. There is nothing whatsoever in this that is any way a threat to you, your relationship, and the life you've built. Why, then, are so many of you demonizing and rejecting people who are simply doing exactly what you're doing...finding, building, living a relationship to their authentic selves and to others?

Author Chen's words are direct and simple, her subject wildly important, and her conclusions elegantly simple. I challenge you to challenge yourself in this unpleasant moment of our shared history, with viruses and unrest and human ugliness pounding our sleepy complacent senses of self, to stretch out and incorporate more ways of being into your head and your life.

Build back better isn't, or needn't be, an empty slogan.

Ene 11, 12:48pm

I haven't weighed in here yet, Richard, but have been monitoring, to make sure you are ok. I posted this on my thread, and of course, on Mark's, and even though you are not the Bird Dude, I think this might give you a smile. So, here ya go:

And now for something completely different. Because goodness knows, we need something completely different (best viewed in full screen):

Birds Can Dance

Ene 11, 2:46pm

Happy New Thread, Richard. I'm doom scrolling, too. We should both stop.

Ene 11, 4:13pm

>39 The_Hibernator: That's very true...though right now there's something interesting happening with Pence on his way into the White House, and that means I'm re-riveted!

>38 jessibud2: *smooch* Thanks, Shelley! A chuckle is always good.

Ene 11, 4:19pm

>35 richardderus: If you will go posing for them, they will get out there. Enjoy your coffee and stacks.

Ene 11, 4:23pm

Happy new thread, Richard, and happy almost-Tuesday.

Ene 11, 4:25pm

>33 richardderus: no, it rarely works. Misery likes company, so it just makes you more miserable. Glad the next book seems to have gone down much better.

Ene 11, 5:05pm

>32 richardderus: my re-reads are few as well. Too many new adventures to be had :)

>37 richardderus: fascinating! The asexual get no air time in society cos, you know, it's sex that sells, not no sex.

Ene 11, 6:37pm

Oh dear.... I missed being able to post to your first thread before you made the leap to this thread, so "Happy New Thread, RD! Nice to see your thread as busy as ever! Going back to your previous thread, what a lovely book pillow. Congratulations on finishing 9 books already this year!

Ene 11, 7:53pm

>37 richardderus: Thanks for bringing this book to my attention.

Editado: Ene 11, 8:07pm

8 Summer of the Cicadas by Chelsea Catherine

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Summer of the Cicadas is about a West Virginian town where a brood of Magicicadas emerges for the first time in seventeen years. The cicadas damage crops and trees, and swarm locals. Jessica, a former cop whose entire family was killed in a car crash two years earlier, is deputized during the crisis. Throughout the book, Jessica must deal with her feelings for her sister's best friend, Natasha, who is a town council member. After Fish and Wildlife removes the swarm, Jessica must also confront the two-year anniversary of her family's death, Natasha's budding romance with a local editor, as well as a sudden but devastating loss that changes everything.


My Review
: A book of eerie, unnatural-nature events pushing one lone and lonely lesbian, returned to small-town West Virginia from a law-enforcement career, to deal with Life. After many years' effort to Fit In (as she sees it), a personal tragedy derails her attempts to build an authentic life in Washington, DC. Coming home makes her fall into old, rejected-by-all patterns of thought. Jessica, whose first-person close PoV we're in for the entire book, is a past mistress of negative self-talk. The habit was established early, despite her close and accepting family...she relives a moment where her country-farmer father has The Talk with her, emphasizing that he loves his daughter and supports her exactly how she is (!!–this is how we know it's fiction)...but living among people who smell, sense in some way anyway, your Otherness and make your life a living hell can undo even the best parenting.

It does go a long way, this 'tude: "Fine," I say to Mason. "But no handcuffs this time." She's speaking to the sheriff, her ex-boss, and referring to the time he had to arrest her at a local strip club and then, because she was coked to the tits and causing a disturbance, fire her. There's a real risk to making your PoV character a smartass in a first-person present-tense novel. Author Catherine, for the most part, stays on the correct side of the line, but it's always an uncomfortable slip away from unpleasantness. It wouldn't ever take much to slide into "oh FFS get ***OVER*** yourself" territory in a story about a woman coming to terms with the boundaries and limitations and unhappinesses of an isolated rural lesbian life. Her crush object for half her life is Natasha, whose best-frienddom with Jess's dead sister keeps the two orbiting each other. Their flirtatious dance is sexual on Jess's part; Natasha is a tease, totally aware of what Jess is feeling and always dancing a bit ahead, to the side, never quite letting her have the prize.

The strange thing is that Jess, dopey lovesick girl that she was for Natasha, doesn't rush in and demand the whole package. But, then she'd have to act; action comes with consequences; and possibility, even at the price of a tease, is easier accept when you're about 99% sure that the real answer is NO. And then there's the whole "everybody hates me, nobody loves me, I'm gonna go eat worms" issue that Jess has with her fellow Mayberryans. (Yes, like THAT Mayberry. Roll with it.) The first third of the book is spent setting the stakes; now it's go time.

This summer is the one where the seventeen-year periodical Magicicadas endemic to deciduous forests in the Eastern US are expected. No one who's experienced it will forget the noise these damned things make. They're black and orange, have red eyes, and fly sluggishly.

Most of the time.

Not this year: Jess's pity party is trumped by the weirdness of the new hatching. These are brightly blue or green with red eyes, bodies as much as five inches long (!!), and whose normal sap-feeding habits are having strange, lethal effects on the trees around the crops already blighted by a hotter-than-usual summer. They're also swarming oddly...and attacking people with some regularity. No one appears to be more than injured by the sharp mouth-parts for a while, but the sheer weirdness of cicadas flying voluntarily and swarming humans, ordinarily pretty much invisible to them, makes the rural farming community scared as hell.

Jess and Mason, who's rehired her for the duration of this weirdness, are propelled into action; the actions are taken, the problem subsides, and Jess and Natasha are forced into ever-closer proximity. Events, as they do, take their course and, as the cicada problem reaches crisis proportions, all of the public and private abscesses in Mayberry burst in Jess's face.

To every birth its blood.

By the end of the book, I was satisfied that Jess's trajectory was altered; that's what I look for in a satisfying read. Up or down, good or bad, not stasis, or I lose my shit and shout mean things at my Kindle. Like it has magical powers to transmute my unkindness and frustration into pain for the offending creator (or Creator, depending). I can hope.

There are lapses in story logic...Mason's injury prevents him from walking but later he's clomping into a meeting? the deputy who's a meathead is also a good kid but is scared of a confrontation?...but honestly, I won't make a fuss about them because the characters are plenty enough to be going on with. The science part's harder to forget, though; there is nothing made of the parts of the story concerning the cicadas beyond a quick fix that works, A star vanished for that application of handwavium creme. Yes, fine, give me the first-person propulsiveness of Jess's PoV and her obsessions, but have the science folk part of her orbit! Tell me that they're acting scared, or shifty, or something to explain why what happened happened; and how they had canisters of handwavium creme handily tested and everything, though this is a seventeen-year periodical species?! That needs some questions from Jess that the science folk must answer somehow.

I liked Jess, though I wanted to shake her sometimes. I liked the self-knowledge she won her way through a miasma of misery to use to take herself off the hamster-wheel of self-loathing. But I wasn't *completely* satisfied, so here we are at a four-star ending.

Ene 11, 8:12pm

>46 SilverWolf28: I hope it will give you a lot of good stuff to think about.

>45 lkernagh: Hi Lori! Thanks! It's currently eight, though, because I got my blog and LT confused. Sorry!

>44 LovingLit: Exactly! (on both counts) It's sad that we're so obsessed, and I really hope we can start the process of making room for people who aren't statistically ordinary.

Ene 11, 8:13pm

>43 Helenliz: Well, me too, Helen, and thank goodness for it. Doomscrolling's a bad habit, but a worse lifestyle choice.

>42 bell7: Thanks, Mary! *smooch*

>41 quondame: *snerk* Duly noted. :-)

Ene 11, 8:24pm

>7 richardderus: Oooooh, I like this

Ene 11, 8:28pm

>37 richardderus: A thoughtful and engaging review of a book I certainly need on my shelf.

Ene 11, 9:18pm

>51 London_StJ: I wholeheartedly concur!

>50 London_StJ: I'm going to be doing group posts of these Burgoined books, to save everyone's sanity. Most likely at the end of each month, in company with a blog post, to make an effort to keep all my tracked reviews in some kind of agreement.

Ene 11, 11:14pm

>37 richardderus: Nice review. Glad to hear the book spoke to you on a fundamental level yet while not sharing the particular identity explored in the book. I guess that reflects the shared humanity regardless of the lens we use to read. Kinda reminds me of Excluded by Julia Serano, which I really appreciated reading.

Ene 12, 7:48am

Morning, Richard. Happy New thread! I have missed seeing you around. I hope you are feeling okay, other than a mild Bloody Wednesday hangover, which I am sure we are all still feeling.

Ene 12, 9:42am

'Morning, RDear.

>47 richardderus: Not my cuppa, truly, but a great review. Swarming cicadas make me shudder.


Ene 12, 10:09am

>55 karenmarie: I don't think much about the book would appeal to you, Horrible. You don't tend to enjoy stories that don't offer more than just the immediate experience of reading.


>54 msf59: Hi Mark! Lots going on...and more to come, I expect. I'm using the tools I've got to climb out of the pit.

>53 justchris: Thank you, Chris. I think anything that speaks so clearly and so plainly to the building blocks of selfhood, whether one's own or a very different one, will capture my interest as this one did.

Ene 12, 10:14am

Take care, Richard. Hugs to you.

Ene 12, 10:18am

>8 richardderus: I think I read Station Eleven soon after Trump was elected and even then it was chilling and too close to home. Many of us saw doom and unrest coming a long way away. I think I followed it up with Suite Francaise so I was good and rattled.

>37 richardderus: and >47 richardderus: have both caught my eye.

Ene 12, 11:12am

Morning, dear one! I'm thinking about you. *smooch*

Editado: Ene 12, 12:04pm

Happy New One, maestro.

Loved that review of What Asexuality Reveals, including your personal comments. A couple of questions: I understand that "allos" are people who experience sexual attraction (right?), but where does the term "allos" come from? ("Aces" is easy enough). And what are "aros"? This is a topic I haven't thought about, and your review makes perfect sense. I'm sorry to hear your family and friends can't take a normal, decent interest in the wellbeing of your beloved YGC. I'll go thumb the review after this.

I appreciated this comment from the book:

“It seems that the message is ‘we have liberated our sexuality, therefore we must now celebrate it and have as much sex as we want,’” says Jo, an ace policy worker in Australia. “Except ‘as much sex as we want’ is always lots of sex and not no sex, because then we are oppressed, or possibly repressed, and we’re either not being our true authentic selves, or we haven’t discovered this crucial side of ourselves that is our sexuality in relation to other people, or we haven’t grown up properly or awakened yet.”

Station Eleven: I liked it a lot, but I sure wouldn't want to be reading it right now, in our continuing pandemic. Kudos for your reading strength.

P.S. LT won't let me link to What Asexuality Reveals book page right now, so I'll try again later.

Ene 12, 12:06pm

I'll add my kudos to Joe's. Kudos!!!!!

We depend on you to continue to take care of yourself and find strength and joy.

Ene 12, 1:39pm

9 The Problem with Mistletoe by Kyle Baxter

Rating: 3.5* of five

I was looking for a "Calgon, take me away" read while the nightmare of this year's bungled and sabotaged transition of presidential power was playing out before my revolted and horrified eyes. A romance, with pretty boys and snow and angst that feels real enough to invest in but not to get in an uproar about, seemed just the ticket.

Eighteen (18) W-bombs. A couple are excusable...parent to child, one intentionally cheeseball one...but when you use a physical defect, I mean gesture, eighteen times in one short book, you're overdoing it. Call this the Cheeseball Test: When you see someone's body language or facial expression described the same way, substitute "fart/ed" and see how you respond.

But that growl of disgust, while it cost the story a star, aside, I found the love of David and Alex very charming. Their second chance at love was a big draw to me. I'm a sucker for second chances. They're not as common in life as in fiction, but that's why they're so irresistible to me. Also realistic to me was the homophobic, abusive parent trope. I've had multiple love relationships with men whose upbringings were a lot like Alex's, raging drunk/druggie parents with a major hate for their child's self leading them to beat, belittle, and abuse them. My own mother's rages found their target in my sexuality, as well, though the only substance she abused was tobacco. (Happily enough it's what killed her!)

David's hoity-toity family's lack of acceptance of Alex, misinterpreted by both boys in the moment, was down to his father the drunk; this problem is brought up near the beginning of the book. The source of Alex's abandonment of their hometown and flight to New York City was also his abusive father...a fact that David, whose life trajectory was more conventional than Alex's, has always felt was his own fault for a badly handled kiss under the mistletoe.

Plenty of believable cross-purposes misunderstandings, badly hurt feelings leading to long silences between former friends, a trans character whose friendship with both boys isn't very well explored, several very troubled women whose failings are central to the plot...juicy!

All the problems I've had with the unfolding of the plot...we all know David and Alex are going to end up together, it's a romance, and the HEA is de rigueur...stem from rushed resolutions and missed explorations. In order to feel truly satisfied, I'd've needed to see more of the inner workings of their rupture. Their constantly interrupted efforts to talk went on a little too long. If they'd started the conversations then been interrupted during them it would have made for more tension. As it was it never built anything except the annoying sensation of avoidance.

On balance, the reason I wanted to review the book at this length was to find out why I took three weeks to finish an afternoon's entertainment. When it feels to me like the author is not, even in the limited scope of a romance novel's length, focusing on people's interrelatedness, it's not the immersive read I am always eager to find. As a freebie at Christmas, this book came out ahead of my niggling dissatisfaction. A better example of the Holiday romantic read was, for me, A Viking for Yule (q.v.). It dug just that extra fraction deeper than this perfectly fine read did, and got a higher rating from my picky typist's fingers than this book.

Ene 12, 2:16pm

>59 Crazymamie: *smooch* Thanks, Mamie! I'm glad to be resident in your headspace. (How very modern I am, no? *snort)

>58 AMQS: Oh good, Anne, they're both worthy of being caught. I hope they'll make your rotation soon.

Suite Francaise after Station Eleven...mercy me! Not a happy place.

>57 DianaNL: Many thanks, Diana! I'm happy to see you.

Ene 12, 2:27pm

>61 LizzieD: Thank you most kindly, Peggy!

>60 jnwelch: "Aro" is a person who is "aromantic," not necessarily asexual or graysexual (a person whose sexual attractions are infrequent or not powerful). These are the folk who don't get what the hell all this fuss is over "falling in love" and "being romantic" with a partner is about. They simply don't experience those emotions. This is not a pathology, as was once assumed, since they are capable of other emotions and thus are not sociopathic or psychopathic.

"Allosexual" is "other sexual" literally, as in "sexually aware of/desirous of another person in a sexual way." Calling someone "asexual" is demeaning if the term for those whose relationship needs don't include sex is "sexual," as the cultural constructs around that word imply desire and/or judgment.

I have learned so very, very much by reading this book, and I suspect I'll re-read it at some point this year to bring my reach and my grasp of this utterly new-to-me territory into alignment.

And thanks for the thumb!

Ene 12, 7:53pm

10 Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Rating: 5* of five

If you don't know already, the 2020 Booker Prize was presented to Author Stuart for this fictionalized account of growing up gay in a deeply dysfunctional, working class family. His story is not unique, though his voice is; he is a survivor of times and tides most of us who read novels are apart from, unacquainted with. A taste for grit lit, an ear for the music of Scottish voices, and a love for searingly honest, uncompromising, and unflinching life-fictions will be sated and elated by this read.

Ene 12, 8:20pm

11 When Brooklyn Was Queer by Hugh Ryan

Rating: 5* of five


One of my very favorite possessions is this hardcover copy I received after the Déluge of 2019 ruined my ARC. The author tells us from the start that I use the catchall refer to people whose sexuality or gender identity isn’t conventional for their time, which helps me avoid projecting specific modern identities (such as gay or transgender) on folks for whom those ideas wouldn’t necessarily have made a lot of sense.

That is all the explanation you need for how, and why, he wrote this history of being "other" in the US's biggest city. It's deeply researched, very well-written, and fascinating to read. Who knew Gypsy Rose Lee and Carson McCullers were close? Who had any idea that Coney Island was known as a queer neighborhood before it was known as a boardwalk and sideshow mecca?

It's enjoyable to learn about New York's most-populous borough with author Hugh Ryan.

Ene 12, 9:06pm

12 A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment by John Preston

Rating: 4* of five


The Emmy-winning TV series available on Amazon is an ideal adaptation of the story told in this book.

The morality play that was Jeremy Thorpe's life is hard to misunderstand: Bisexual in a time when any taint of same-sex love was fatal to a career in any walk of publis life, Thorpe resorted to attempted murder of his younger, unstable ex-lover when he reached power in Parliament. Like any good scandal, this one only *starts* with the title event; as proceedings widen their cast, many renowned British figures of the era are whose own sexual misdeeds far, far exceeded Thorpe's consensual buggery. Ironically, Thorpe's attempt to forestall scandal is what brought him down (shades of Nixon and Trump!), as he was acquitted of the charge of attempted murder but was never again any force in British politics.

A thumping good read, a slice of history that we cannot seem to keep from replaying, and a story to make one grateful the world has changed as much as it has.

Ene 12, 10:09pm

Lordy, your second thread is skating right along.

I am glad you liked Station Eleven even though it was not what one could call a distraction from real life these days. I thought it was quite well done.

Five stars for Shuggie Bain -- hooray! I agree wholeheartedly.

>37 richardderus: What an excellent review. Your personal presence in it makes it even more powerful and interesting. Thank you for that.

Oh, and I'm adding A Very English Scandal to the wish list. :-)

Editado: Ene 13, 2:26am

>32 richardderus: I'm glad that I could bring some brightness to your day. I shall add that to my list of super villainess powers - although I should probably hide it at the bottom somewhere since it's not exactly evil, really.

Wow - three 4 star reads almost in a row. Things seem to be looking up.

And, also, you no longer seem to be ignoring me, right Richard?

Richard? Oi, Richard!...

>38 jessibud2: thumb

Ene 13, 1:32am

Your reading and posting are both hard to keep up with, Richard. You got me with a A Very English Scandal, now on my hold list at the library.

Ene 13, 8:29am

>66 richardderus: Oh, this is my favorite kind of history. I'll be looking for this one .... at my library! ;)

Ene 13, 8:33am

Este usuario ha sido eliminado por spam.

Ene 13, 9:21am

Finaly caught up happy new thread! I have Station Eleven ready for me on audible, I am actcherly looking forward to it both Paul and My Godmorther suggested I would like it.

Ene 13, 10:35am

>73 BBGirl55: Hi Bryony! Glad you're queued up on Station Eleven, though it's a beautiful read it might not be too soothing.

>71 London_StJ: I predict a love-match, Mme La London, it's got such delightful and telling and personal bunch of anecdotes among the sociology and history. It's the best bouillabaisse book I read last year and was a great comfort re-read.

>70 Familyhistorian: Oooh, Meg, I think you're in for a treat! This is a genealogist's best step into true crime...all about interconnectedness and who's at the center of what web of relationships.

Ene 13, 11:01am

>69 humouress: ...and you are...?

Going around brightening the days of lonely old recluses is an excellent supervillainess power! Just *think* of the misery you're inflicting on all the people such persons would've otherwise avoided imposing themselves on. Why, you're practically a one-villainess plague!

>68 EBT1002: Shuggie is a brilliant creation. I know Douglas Stuart took a lot from his own life to create him, but just think of the boldness and courage of that act: "This is me, people who don't know me; this is what and who I am," is so intensely brave a thing to say.

Amusingly, the target of the snarky mention of no one ever asking about Rob emailed me a very intemperate defense. I was so pleased the bolt had found its target. Heh.

A Very English Scandal is a really appalling story really well told. The privilege I enjoy as an old white man is never more a burden than when I read about these people who use it without conscience and with appalling selfishness.


Ene 13, 11:24am

Wishing you a Happy New Thread i don't usually catch up with your threads this early in their lifecycle almost a thread in puberty, no?

>67 richardderus: A Very English Scandal - the TV show - was on my ever growing queues of "Things To Be Watched".

Maybe this is the time to bump it up a few pegs.

and add it to my "Things to Be Read" list too

Ene 13, 11:55am

>76 magicians_nephew: Ha, no Jim you're usually popping in well into triple digits so this IS a change!

Bump that puppy up the list. I haven't liked a Hugh Grant performance nearly this much in a long time. And reading it is also a good idea, though whether before or after isn't terribly important IMO. You'll get a lot from each iteration of the tale.

Ene 13, 12:24pm

Hiya, RDear, and happy Wednesday to you.

You seem a tad more chipper, which is good news indeed.


Ene 13, 12:56pm

Not gonna lie. Did not read all the posts...

Ene 13, 12:56pm


Ene 13, 1:00pm

That's a more chipper set of books and postings.
>67 richardderus: glad we are appreciated for our skills >;-)

Ene 13, 2:25pm

>67 richardderus: I’ve not read the book but I’ve seen the TV adaptation of A Very English Scandal, and it was one of the best things I’d seen for ages. I though Hugh Grant was wonderful as Jeremy Thorpe. I remember the scandal, although it seemed very far fetched at the time. But no one was ever likely to forgive Jeremy Thorpe after the dog got shot ...

Ene 13, 2:42pm

>82 SandDune: Absolutely not! Planning to murder a person is much more forgivable than killing a dog. Usually people deserve it, dogs almost never.

Grant was *sublime* in his oleaginous smarm. Whishart was scatty as Norman, but still his sweet and beautiful self; he failed to perfect his cunning side, though, IMO.

>81 Helenliz: I am in awe of librarian superpowers. *Never* play a librarian!

>80 mckait:, >79 mckait: *smooch*

>78 karenmarie: Less doomscrolling = more chipper me. Tomorrow's multiple Burgoines, seen above, are because I need to keep my monkey of a brain busy. Must clear up backlog of way is to Burgoine ' start writin'.

Ene 13, 3:20pm

Ain't it the truth.

Ene 13, 4:52pm

>17 richardderus: Have you read her newest novel The Glass Hotel? A bunch of my friends didn't love it, but I really enjoyed it. I remember liking Station Eleven more though.

>84 richardderus: 😡😡🤬

Ene 13, 5:06pm

>85 ChelleBearss: Hi Chelle! Agreed re: >84 richardderus:

I gave The Glass Hotel three stars. It just didn't hold up compared to Station Eleven. An altogether lesser reading experience for me, and how disappointed was I.

Ene 13, 5:15pm

>84 richardderus: Damn. Sickeningly true.

Wait, though. Have you not seen a dentist yet?

Ene 13, 5:20pm

>87 bohemima: Nope.

It's quite a tale of woe, but boils down to "Medicaid doesn't pay me much so you're at the back of the line."

*smooch* Glad you're here.

Ene 13, 10:56pm

13 Condominium by Daniel Falatko

Rating: 2.5* of five


A very important part of keeping good records is that people who want your feedback on the books they've quite graciously given you access to rather expect you'll give it in less than three years. That ship having sailed, to my chagrin, here goes.

This tale of a New York City aspirational-lifestyle couple gets good marks for atmospheric, claustrophobic scene-setting and scope-defining narrative. While I quibble with the rather magisterial pace the author sets, there are many precedents for his use of it. Are you a fan of We Have Always Lived in the Castle's or Let the Right One In's unsettling, eerie happenings? This book will scratch that same bump. But you'll be in the company of uniformly and unhappily one-note characters.

Ene 13, 11:17pm

13 done already, RD. Mightily impressed.

Glad to see that Shuggie Bain hit the spot. I will finish it over the next few days as I am "savouring" it.

Ene 13, 11:23pm


Editado: Ene 13, 11:26pm

>91 ronincats: *smooch*

>90 PaulCranswick: Hi PC! I know what you mean about savoring Shuggie. it's just so complete and immersive a world he (re-)creates. And the thirteen is down to several of them being re-reads, almost a skim in the case of #13, so they went a lot faster.

Ene 14, 3:28am

Just dropping in - no more doom-scrolling!!

Ene 14, 6:16am

Just checking in here. Glad to see the reading continues at a fast pace! : ) I am on news overload again.

Ene 14, 11:08am

>94 Berly: Hiya Berly-boo! News overload is pretty much S.O.P. in this moment, I guess. Read more books is my solution...then write about them.

Flipping through ones I've read but never reviewed has been pretty eye-opening. I don't review some good books, and that's a shame. But most? Mouldering mound of ~Meh~ material.

>93 BekkaJo: Who has time right now?! I'm on a quest to clear up the Kindle backlog. *smooch*

Ene 14, 11:12am

'Morning, RDear.

I've got less than 200 pages to go in A Promised Land. It's good but slow reading. I'm going to have fun today looking through some of the bags of books in my Library from the FoL December donation. Handling books is always a joy.


Ene 14, 11:13am

>96 karenmarie: He's an able writer...Dreams from My Father was a pretty good read, IIRC.

I know exactly how you feel about that...fondling the pretties is a huge source of pleasure to me, too.


Ene 14, 11:41am

Morning, BigDaddy! Oof to the Mouldering mound of ~Meh~ material."

Ene 14, 12:03pm

>98 Crazymamie: Hiya Mamie, happy to see you here! The Mouldering Mound of ~Meh~ is where most stuff resides...good enough, not superb, not awful, just *there*...and it always has been and always will be. It's the nature of the creative beast that good enough is more common than excellent.

But ye GAWDS do I find it more tiresome than ever as the years flash past! Now that Burgoineing has entered my life, I have the means to explain why I bothered but wouldn't necessarily advise you to, and that is a really great feeling to me.

Ene 14, 12:04pm

And oh so time saving for me! *Grin*

Ene 14, 12:09pm

Moscow Mitch McTraitor? Is that you?

Ene 14, 12:12pm

>100 Crazymamie: I live to serve, Madame.

Editado: Ene 14, 12:27pm

One of my favorite Churchill Quotes:

“If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them – peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.”

Ene 14, 12:47pm

>103 magicians_nephew: Perfect. Exactly what I meant, said more elegantly and completely than I could ever manage.

Where's it from in his ouevre, any idea?

Ene 14, 12:51pm

>103 magicians_nephew:
Yes, perfect.

I do love my books, and they repay that a thousandfold.

Ene 14, 2:02pm

>105 bohemima: Howdy, Gail, I am somehow utterly unsurprised that the Churchill quote speaks for you, too.

Ene 14, 3:20pm

>103 magicians_nephew: He's has his faults, but he's right on the money there

Ene 14, 3:40pm

>108 Helenliz: That's very true. In fact one might go so far as to say he was a maze of faults defined by narrow strips of verdant creative genius.

>107 magicians_nephew: Thank you!

Ene 14, 6:52pm

>103 magicians_nephew: - Ooo, I like that!

Ene 14, 6:56pm

Glad to see you feeling better Richard.

Ene 14, 7:08pm

>111 The_Hibernator: Better indeed, and thank you Rachel.

>110 jessibud2: I know, right?!

Ene 14, 9:10pm

Yup, I'm back.....not sure how much energy I'll have to keep up with your frenetic threads, but it's nice to have that option. Bob says hi (he's still unpacking and schlepping boxes up and down the stairs ). we thought we were down-sizing but ended up buying a house with tons of built in shelving, but it's all either up in a loft or down in the basement (next to the media room VROOM VROOM for the grandkiddos) so we have to go up or down to shelve and choose books.

here's the thread:

Ene 14, 9:18pm

>113 tututhefirst: Be here when here is where you want to be. No one owes any of us anything! It's all in fun.


Editado: Ene 14, 11:51pm

>75 richardderus: So I still get to be all villainess-y? Al-RIGHT!

>96 karenmarie: Handling books is always a joy. So true.

Ene 15, 12:19am

14 Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

Rating: 4* of five

Not at all the book-magic I'm accustomed to from Genevieve Cogman and Rachel Caine...a wee bit infodumpy the first third, some slightly overextended scenes between our Porter protagonist and the Vampires, quite a large acceleration thereafter...but an EPIC ending. My fellow majgickq-disdainers: This is not the book we fear, it is a delightful expansion of a reality we all already know: Novels and tales are, in every important way, real and we can reach into them for what we love and need the most. If you were thrilled to your core by Harry Potter's Patronus or the fire lizards and dragons of Pern, you will adore Smudge the Spider.

I mean, can you resist this?
“Showing up on an acquaintance’s doorstep and asking him to become your lover . . . your mate . . . isn’t normal. Not for humans.”

“Normal?” she repeated. “Yesterday you fed me cake from Wonderland so we could ride your spider into a magical basement and fight a vampire.”

Ene 15, 12:42am

>116 richardderus: While I'm positive to neutral to spiders as long as they don't startle me, I could easily imagine some not wanting to go arachnid-back adventuring. I will look for that one.

Ene 15, 3:31am

>103 magicians_nephew: I'm not the only one who read that and then went straight to their bookshelves to fondle some books, right? Right?

Happy Friday R'Dear and I'll look out for Libriomancer.

Ene 15, 3:59am

>116 richardderus: I admit to not being a fan of magic in books, especially not when it is used to miraculously escape a corner that the protagonist has got themselves into, usually by being stupid. But that does sound intriguing enough. Is that a standalone or a series?

Ene 15, 7:27am

Morning, Richard. Happy Friday. I just finished another terrific story collection, Cowboys Are My Weakness. It is one you might like too. Have you watched any of the Small Axe films on Prime? If not, I just finished them. They are quite an achievement. Highly recommended.

Ene 15, 8:07am

'Morning, RDear!

The siren call of coffee lured me downstairs rather than turn over and sleep another hour or so. it was worth it.

I hope coffee and books treat you well today.


Ene 15, 8:13am

I finished Mrs. Caliban yesterday - great book! Thanks for the rec!

Happy Friday-ing to you....

Ene 15, 9:16am

Good morning! Hope you are doing well.

Ene 15, 10:13am

>123 leperdbunny: Good morning, Tamara! It's a pleasure to see you're back among us! I'm hoping for more and better for us all this year.

>122 katiekrug: So! I hope I can tempt you into further Ingallsiation. Happy Friday indeed, ma'am, and you'll notice your prominent mention in my review of When Brooklyn Was Queer, I trust.

>121 karenmarie: Hi Horrible, I'm pleased your coffee was so powerful as to lure you out of bed. I myownself turned on Time Team and slept until 9.30. Glorious!

Ene 15, 10:20am

>124 richardderus: - Well, I mean, I wasn't mentioned by name.... *SOB*


Ene 15, 10:21am

>120 msf59: Small Axe is on my list, Mark, as is Cowboys since I figured there was no hope for me anyway. Just bung it on the list, Birddude'll be warbling about it soon enough. *martyred sigh*

>119 Helenliz: I loathe magjickq. I mean, the kind that deus ex machinas the idiot protagonist out of corners, doesn't come with consequences, and is kept a SECRET from them because...{fill in putridly adolescent-exceptionalist pandering nonsense here}.

Libriomancer is first in a series of four novels and two novellas. I'm working my way back through them as I read them during my stay in the goofy garage (two of them, anyway). Things are just a touch hazy from that moment. I'm enjoying rediscovering Isaac!

>118 BekkaJo: Oh, do please, Bekka, the books are great fun.

...why, who was it told...I mean said!...I was fondling my books?

>117 quondame: It's escapist delight, Susan. I imagine it might even crawl a-Smudge-back to an extra half-star.

Ene 15, 10:29am

>127 richardderus: - Ah, well. That's more like it!

Ene 15, 12:18pm

>116 richardderus: And I'm hit. You vicious book wielder you. *smooch*

Ene 15, 12:20pm

Hi Richard, Just stopping in and dropping a star! Good to see you are still with the 75-ers.

Ene 15, 12:33pm

>130 connie53: Hi Connie! A very happy New Year to you and all yours. I'm glad you decided to drop in.

>129 MickyFine: I have many leagues to travel before I catch up with Your Librarianhood in the book-bulleting rankings. *smooch*

>128 katiekrug: :-)

Ene 15, 2:02pm

For books about magic to work for me the author has to let the reader in on the gag and play fair.

If you introduce an automobile in chapter one that goes 60 miles an hour on dirt roads, I'm OK. But you can't change your mind in chapter three and say - Oh I forgot the car can fly too!

right into the bin

Ene 15, 2:29pm

Afternoon, BigDaddy! You got me with >116 richardderus:, too. Nicely done.

Ene 15, 2:34pm

>133 Crazymamie: *smooch* My aim is true.

>132 magicians_nephew: Completely agree, Jim, and probably would add an extra degree of force to my binning!

Ene 15, 6:15pm

For some reason, Jim Hines and I just don't mesh. It's like there are these interference arrays set up so as to produce dis-harmonics when we interact, even when I should love them. The ONLY thing that redeemed Goblin Quest was the ending ( The trout! . The Stepsister Scheme was ruined by his complete misunderstanding or misappropriation of the psychology involved, and Libriomancer simply left me cold despite the premise. Unfortunately, it's been long enough ago that I have not the slightest memory of Smudge. So, Hines is sadly not for me.

Ene 15, 6:59pm

>135 ronincats: It happens that way, and there's just no comin' back from that kind of mismatch. Oh well, at least that's one crop of books you can mark off the "covet" list. And that is, at least to me, worth as much as finding a new passionate love-read.

Ene 15, 7:39pm

>135 ronincats: But hey, at least he's a force for good within the science fiction community. I knew him first because of the Pose-Off with John Scalzi before I ever heard he was an author. In addition to tackling sexism and sexual harassment in the industry, he also elevates new writers and removes the veil from some of the hidden machinery of publishing by sharing his author income stats (going back to 2007). And I have all the sympathy for him because he lost his wife in 2019. He doesn't blog quite as much anymore, but still keeps at it, along with the writing, and the living, and the grieving. I don't think I've read any of his fiction yet. So I don't know yet how it'll land wiht me.

Ene 15, 8:28pm

>137 justchris: I buy his books because of all those reasons, Chris, and this is the first one I've reviewed. Burgoineing is enough of a review to satisfy me; but not so much that I violate my firm principle of "if I buy a book, my part in supporting the author is done; reviews are for ARCs and DRCs."

After all, if I review all the books I buy, why is any same publisher going to give me free ones?

Ene 15, 8:52pm

Wow! 15 books done already! Anyhow, wishing you a splendid weekend ahead.

Ene 16, 9:54am

>139 figsfromthistle: Hi Anita! The only reason the total is that high is that a lot of them were re-reads. I didn't focus as closely on those, so it was easier to get a lot of projects accomplished. I'll be a good deal slower now.

Happy weekend wishes heartily returned!

Ene 16, 10:30am

The tech satraps did the right thing. They did it the wrong way, with the wrong degree of autonomy, but the right thing was done at least and at last.
Deplatforming a demagogue in New York magazine.

Ene 16, 10:41am

'Morning, RD!

Excellent article. Thanks for sharing.


Ene 16, 11:06am

>142 karenmarie: It really was a good explication of the problem we face vis-a-vis these rotten-souled brats.


Ene 16, 2:27pm

15 Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

Rating: 4.5* of five

This is a delightful read. The investment you make in the first 100 pages pays off in a rich, enfolding experience of very able, capable worldbuilding by Author Miller.

Four PoV characters seems like a lot, I know, but each presents the reader with a different lens on a world that is all about where you are in its hierarchy as to what it looks like, feels like, and how Qaanaaq functions to meet your needs. Wealthy and privileged and bored Fill and Kaev, males at opposite ends of the city's caste system, and Kaev the professional fight-thrower is about to slip a few more rungs down the ladder. Ankit and non-binary Soq are the mobile middle-dwellers, each functioning in their differing-status jobs to support the power structure. Soq the messenger, the Mercury of Qaanaaq, was probably my favorite PoV in the book. The stealth they possess; the invisibility that rejecting binaries confers on them; all the moments of revelation this leads to make them a character I'd've loved to hear more from.

Author Miller is a top-notch talent, a maker of archetypes and a weaver of worlds whose skills are already as sharp as many with much longer résumés. What points of complaint I have are negligible compared to the central, overarching concerns he presents in this three-year-old and already timeless title.

Some of my favorite lines:
Money is a mind, the oldest artificial intelligence. Its prime directives are simple, it's programming endlessly creative. Humans obey it unthinkingly, with cheerful alacrity. Like a virus, it doesn't care if it kills its host. It will simply flow on to someone new.
The American fleet had lacked a lot of things—food, shelter, fuel, civil liberties—but it hadn’t lacked weapons. The global military presence that had made the pre-fall United States so powerful, and then helped cause their collapse, had left them with all sorts of terrifying toys.
“Fine line between good business and a fucking war crime,” he said. “Ain’t that the goddamn epitaph of capitalism.”

Ene 16, 3:23pm

>144 richardderus: And isn't that last quote supremely applicable today! I have this on my tbr shelf, need to get to it.

>137 justchris: Good to know, Chris.

Ene 16, 3:50pm

>145 ronincats: Thanks, Roni, it really is, and so is the entire exposé of how capitalism fails us all.

It's not, and this I say in surprise, at all glum or po-faced, and it's not *whackthudcrunch* about its tendentious anti-capitalism.

Ene 16, 5:48pm

>144 richardderus: - Sounds intriguing...

Ene 16, 7:04pm

>147 katiekrug: Yes, indeed it is! I think you'll enjoy it, it's got a load of interesting SFnal Themes played out very well.

The Kindlebook goes on sale fairly regularly for $1.99. It's not, though.

Ene 16, 7:55pm

I'll put it n my Kindle wish list on Amazon, which I visit regularly and sort by lowest to highest price to see if anything is on sale :)

Ene 17, 9:55am

>144 richardderus: I will also go and seek that one out, RD.

Have a splendid weekend.

Ene 17, 9:59am

Hiya, RD!

I hope you have a coffee-and-book-filled day.


Ene 17, 10:12am

16 Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks by 'Nathan Burgoine

Rating: 5* of five

Yeah, that worked. I was transported and eager to stay there.
Malik King knew my name? I let the little thrill in my chest play out a couple of seconds before I squashed it.

You remember that moment, the one where your crush sees you for the first time, you exist as more than a label for a thing that takes up space. Malik just experienced it. Cole just experienced the validation of his entire miserable childhood existence as the freak who got snatched by an old cat lady...the hawt guy he's lusted after Noticed Him. What's so adorable is that, being told from Cole's PoV, adults see the way Malik's maneuvering himself into Cole's orbit and really, really, really hoping his butthead jock friends don't get him declined like a noun in Latin class.

And so begins a charming story of teenagers in love, figuring out how to relate to each others' antithetical crowds and what to say to keep Him from figuring out how scared you are, what the hell do I do with my hands, am I staring at his eyes too long, good god not a boner no please god no....

I will not lie: I don't care for the YA genre at all because being a teenager was a fucking misery and I'd just as soon not relive it. What I am saying is, this book and I? We weren't going to be besties. Until I found out about the teleporting thing. Well, this changes everything and how, gimme gimme now. The added levels of anxiety, of learning how to use something he'd never so much as conceptualized could exist, plus his *amazing* new superpower's implications...yeah, totally hooked me. Plus the entire parent-amazingness plus irritating overprotectiveness, how he's so close with his Rainbow Alliance pals, his teddy bear bestie Alec, the Meeples game shop loveliness. I was so deeply delighted by these good-memory echoes. Then, in my usual careless fashion, I read it, liked it, laughed out loud until my sides hurt three separate and distinct times, and...forgot to write a review.

For two years. Holy fuckme, two solid years. I am a bad boy.

So, as I am also a registered Republican (long story...Warren/Social Democrat who's never voted GOP in his entire life), I'm going to blame someone else: Author Burgoine dropped two w-bombs. It sapped my will to write. See? It's all his fault.

Ene 17, 10:19am

>151 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible! I'm drinking the last of my pot as we type. Then it's back to The Pallbearer, Appalachian dead-enders who're also queer. It's very very grit-lit hillbilly noir-y violence. You'd *hate* it.


>150 PaulCranswick: It's a very, very good read, PC, and one I think your Malaysia-resident self will recognize as a probable, if not inevitable, future.

>149 katiekrug: Maaahvelous, daaahling.

Ene 17, 10:54am

Just breezing through, reading all your posts, and saying a Good Sunday Morning! to you.

Ene 17, 11:08am

>154 bohemima: Good Sunday morning, Gail! Glad to see you around the old homestead. *smooch*

Ene 17, 12:03pm

Happy Sunday, Richard. Not sure if you will be watching any football later, but I hope you have a good day with the books.

Ene 17, 12:07pm

>156 msf59: Thanks, Mark, it's been a good one so far...may the trend continue.

Ene 17, 5:58pm

Hi Richard and Happy Sunday.

I'm stopping by to remind myself of the three-sentence review guide and to thank you for your praise of The Only Good Indians last month (I think it was last month). I put it on hold at the library based on your comments. I'm now about a third into it and I can hardly put it down.

Ene 17, 6:13pm

>158 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! I am so glad that you're enjoying The Only Good Indians. It really is amazing how fully immersive a read it is.

The Burgoineing pattern is such a terrific gift to me that I'm very pleased to know it's spreading!

Ene 17, 7:18pm

In case this had not yet come to your attention:

Ene 17, 8:20pm

>160 quondame: Oh myyyyyy

They're *glorious*! I need to get that cloth mask. The hoodie's pretty sweet, but I'd like it better if the tentacles came up over it.

Thanks for sharing those!

Ene 17, 9:26pm

17 The Pallbearer by Jordan Farmer

Rating: 3.5* of five


Terry Blankenship is a stand-in for all the boys who grow up queer in homophobic places. He has a dead mother, a drunken abusive father, and a drug habit he steals to support. He's a complete dead-ender, and he knows it; he's not even trying to run anywhere except up into the hills where an abandoned hunting cabin hides him and his eighteen-year-old boyfriend, stoner Davey. Old Man Felts, once the town undertaker, gives Terry, in cash, about half what he's really earned at the end of every day that they try to fix up a badly decayed old house in Lynch, WV, where there's no opportunity and no hope:
Even at sixteen, Terry was no stranger to labor and didn't mind the work, but this place felt like a lost cause to him.
Staying closeted created a certain pain, but it was still an option in a place where being yourself meant risking your life.

So there he is; the way out closed to the likes of Terry a long time ago. He still has Davey, who was the proximate cause of Terry's dad throwing him out of the house after walking in on them, and Davey wants bright lights, big city, maybe Charleston, or Lexington? They need money, so they decide to enter Terry's dog in a dogfight.

This does not, I realize you'll be stunned to learn, go well.

What happens is, the two fools end up owing the local big baddie fifteen hundred dollars. This might as well be a million to these folks. There's no way they can pay it back, so the big baddie (after some murderous threats) tells dear, dim Terry he can work it off: Kill the local sheriff. Here's the gun. Go!

And we're off! Terry escapes the consequences of his crime by going to juvenile prison; there he meets Jason Felts, the sadly crippled (one assumes by in utero exposure to teratogenic substances in the embalming room) nephew of the ex-undertaker and a psychologist at the facility; the big baddie's baby brother; and his doom. Not that Jason doesn't do his goddamnedest to keep Terry from losing his short struggle for life. He does, because his own dreadful disability makes life in this horribly dying corpse-factory of a town such a struggle that he empathizes with its no-hopers.

What Terry cares about, in his time inside juvenile prison, is the dog he used and abandoned. He begs the facility doctor (cold and calloused by the endless parade of the state's wasted youth):
"I need somebody to go by the house and see about my dog," Terry said.

"Not my concern," the doctor said and adjusted his stethoscope.

Then he begs Jason, all he wants is for Jason to deliver a letter to Davey, alone in their shared squat at the abandoned cabin, not knowing where Terry was, probably worried sick:
{Jason} kept thinking about {Terry's} small handwriting, the elegant loop in the cursive P of please. It was capitalized, a single word followed by the dark blot of a period. Words were such fragile, imprecise things, but that please explained everything.

It's completely heartbreaking to me to read books like this, full of the desperation of tiny lives lived in the sweaty asscrack of capitalism, places abandoned because the profit's gone and why should the shareholders pay for crappy, useless people to exist? There's money at stake, fuck their health, their lives, their futures!

This is the burden of the refrain that ran through my head, a grinding sound as the people of Lynch watch the armored cars take the money as the scum run. It's the same the world over, of course; Jordan Farmer has stories to his credit in The Southwest Review, for one example, that explore these same conditions. Like Donald Ray Pollock, he's writing what he knows, or I miss my guess. He's an able talespinner, and he's an above-average writer. His subject is territory he can honestly say is in need of bards. That not one person gets out of this jail free is not his fault, it's simply the truth of the people in the place he writes about.

As the body count mounts, as the damage to the world the small people in here care about grows catastrophic, Jason Felts stands for the Right and the Good. He's lacking in inches, he's been badly served in body by Life, but he does the jobs that no one else wants to do. He ends one long nightmare. It doesn't cost him his life, just his spirit: Rooted forever in Lynch, he's doomed to find his one happy moment far, far away.

It is exactly the right ending.

Editado: Ene 18, 4:16am

>152 richardderus: Yes. Really good excuse. I see you didn’t write much this time either even though you remember after two years that you laughed so hard that it made your sides hurt three separate times.

Teleporting, you say? Hmm ...

Ene 18, 10:32am

>163 humouress: But I *did* go back through the book, not just fly off my there *nyah*

The concept isn't exactly explored to its fullest. It stops, in fact, at the point where I was at fever pitch and I am just back from sacrificing some kittens to Kalliope for her to make him get crackin' on a sequel.

Ene 18, 10:40am

‘Morning, RD, and happy Monday to you.

>153 richardderus: It’s the grit-lit hillbilly noir-y violence I’d probably not enjoy, as you well know.

Ene 18, 10:53am

>165 karenmarie: Oh. Hello. I'm *honored* that you're taking time away from your book-fondling orgy to greet me. Truly.

Yeah, this is the kind of violence that you would recoil from...OTT and described in disturbing detail. There's nothing quite like that combo to send nightmares into one's sleep, eh what?

Ene 18, 12:28pm

I'll just leave this here.

Ene 18, 1:30pm

Ene 18, 1:35pm

>167 richardderus: This sentiment ... is not wrong.

Ene 18, 1:44pm

>167 richardderus: Exactly. But here's hoping this is a happy Monday! (Is there such a thing?) Smooch.

Ene 18, 2:10pm

Thanks, y'all, I knew it would resonate here.
Then there's this one:

Ene 18, 2:15pm

>172 richardderus: - Snort! Go get 'em, Jackie!

Ene 18, 2:28pm

>144 richardderus: and >152 richardderus: and >162 richardderus: You continue to write such alluring reviews! I had heard all the buzz around Blackfish City on LT and in fandom when it came out a couple years ago. Your review is very convincing evidence in support of that buzz. And yeah, no one really wants to revisit teenage terror years, but some authors are amaze-balls with it.

>167 richardderus: That'd be my brother, who tends to be extremely patronizing on FB. Good thing I'm not there then or now.

“Fine line between good business and a fucking war crime,” he said. “Ain’t that the goddamn epitaph of capitalism.” It's a feature, not a bug! Fuck capitalism.

Ene 18, 2:34pm

>174 justchris: Thank you for the lovely compliment, Chris. I'm always beavering away on the review-writing standards, trying to make them irresistible.

Seriously loved Blackfish City so this is me shoving you towards the "buy" button.

Fuck capitalism! And, it sounds like, your brother...that is so sad. Luckily none of my sisters like 45 or there would be blood.

Ene 18, 2:37pm

>173 katiekrug: Snort indeed! That tacky broad ripping out sixty-year-old roses to make the Rose Garden rose-free really got up my nose like very little else she's done has. I mean, the Narnian xmas decor, the "Be Best" farrago, all laughable...the fact that anyone with an Internet connection can see FLOTUS's cooch is beyond tacky...but this was malicious and calculated to insult the legacy of a genuinely good person.

Editado: Ene 18, 3:03pm

>167 richardderus: >174 justchris: I remember a FB discussion which was, boiled down, "four more years of what Barak Obama did may not be what you want, but four years of what DT will do if you insist on your third party vote, will not be what you want".
I imagine it's a lot worse if numbers of your acquatiance supported DT.

Ene 18, 3:11pm

I have a Trump supporting friend whose line is

"Trump will damage the country is short term ways but "Socialism Democrats" will damage the country in long term ways".

He's gone quiet the last week or so.

Ene 18, 3:13pm

Conservatives threatening us with a good time once again

Editado: Ene 18, 3:14pm

>179 reconditereader: I'm not sure I follow...?

>178 magicians_nephew: Gosh. I wonder why.

>177 quondame: My good fortune is to live in New York. I don't really even need to vote (don't worry, I always do) because this is a blue state. That said, I live in a red a purple county...but still, the preponderance of the votes are for Democrats here.

Ene 18, 4:50pm

This is also going around, Richard. Won't need it for much longer, thankfully:

Ene 18, 4:55pm

>181 jessibud2: Ha! Priceless, thank you Shelley.

Ene 18, 5:34pm

Happy Monday, Richard!

>160 quondame: OMG! I , love it

Ene 18, 6:53pm

>183 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita, and the same wishes heartily returned.

Aren't those glorious?! The colors, the illustration, the designs, all just great.

Ene 18, 9:40pm

>172 richardderus: and >176 richardderus: Had no clue what y'all were talking about, had to go look it up.

>175 richardderus: My brother and I keep our convos mostly focused on his kids or other family members. My mom tells me that my brother has Trump-grets. Meh. I sardonically mentioned Minneapolis PD is hiring (my brother has been applying for cop jobs around his area for many months now). My brother thinks George Floyd died of a heart attack. I don't even try. Once years ago, I asked his thoughts on the militarization of the police, and he was all "What do you mean by militarization?" We are simply too diametrically opposed because I'm all for defunding the police. Given his chosen profession, he has to side with authoritarian/fascist viewpoints. Frankly, I noticed the authoritarian tendencies when his kids were toddlers.

I live in one of 3 blue points in my state, which is very purple and twitchy overall, and on the receiving end of one of Giuliani's lawsuits and selective ballot recounts. The Politics of Resentment was written here. I'm living in a cohousing community--that's about as liberal hippie as you can get. But white liberals are willing to go only so far.

My cohousing community hosted a generational wealth workshop recently to talk about the particulars of homeownership disparities between African Americans and everyone else, and how much of their recent gains were erased in the Great Recession (hold on, kids, we've seen nothing yet in terms of housing disruption--the eviction moratorium is about to expire, and all the pandemic money not going to average people...), and asking white folks to step up materially to address this ongoing injustice. Mind you, I missed the workshop because I was taking classes online elsewhere that day. But I am pondering how I can address injustices around land ownership/possession and displacement/genocide of indigenous peoples. I've spent most of my life working poor and just barely clinging to middle class economic status the last few years, which puts me in a very equivocal spot in terms of redressing economic injustices.

>160 quondame: Very nice! Immediately made me think of this "Leviathan Ages" short video I saw last week:

Ene 19, 12:19am

>185 justchris: As to housing inequity, I would like cities to have substantial non-residence taxes - residential property that is not lived in by the owners, or rented/leased long term should be taxed steeply. Also huge fines for badly maintained properties. Unfortunately, property owners fund campaigns.

Ene 19, 7:05am

Ene 19, 8:22am

>167 richardderus: Well, this just made my morning. B.A.G. 27 hours and counting...

Ene 19, 8:48am

Morning, BigDaddy! I brought some goodness because we could use some:

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Is the coffee ready?

Ene 19, 9:00am

Good morning, RD, and as I wrote on Mark’s thread just now, Happy Day Before the Adults Take Over.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Ene 19, 9:00am

>189 Crazymamie: - *drool*

Morning, RD!

Ene 19, 10:19am

This was a TV schedule from 4 years ago. Were they very wrong?

Editado: Ene 19, 10:52am

>192 Helenliz: Ha! That's great, Helen, thanks for sharing it.

>191 katiekrug: I concur! Let the mass drooling even begin. *gingerly smooch*

>190 karenmarie: I am delighted that the weekend just past was as calm as it was. I'm hoping the armed presence (!) in the capital will keep the scum's demonstration from being more than a wet squib. *smooch*

>189 Crazymamie: Of course, dear:

And the ghee's over there with the other add-ins if you're ready for a buttered golden coffee, delish-delosh!

Ene 19, 10:51am

>188 msf59: Ain't it the truth.

>187 sirfurboy: Hi Stephen, glad you're here!

>186 quondame:, >185 justchris: Those sound like very good proposals. It's my impression that some scenic places do charge a vacancy tax on homes not used a certain proportion of their lives, though it's been a while since I had direct knowledge of this.

Speaking to relatives has so rarely gone well for me that I try my damnedest to avoid it. Emails and cards are a lot less stressful and literally can not end in shouting matches. If I'm triggered by something someone writes, I can close the email/card and wait until I'm calm again before I respond. It works so far.

Ene 19, 1:22pm

Happy Tuesday to you, Monsieur Gourmet. I've never tried ghee, but when you talk about it in connection with coffee, I'm interested.

Did you ever read the mystery writer Eliot Pattison? He writes the Inspector Shan series set in Tibet that starts with The Skull Mantra. My sister persuaded me to try one of his set in the American colonies called The Bone Rattler. Pretty good halfway through.

Ene 19, 2:10pm

>195 jnwelch: Try the golden coffee sometime, Joe, with ghee, turmeric, a bit of sugar...delicious stuff!

I've never encountered Pattison that I can recall. The Tibetan one sounds intriguing, so I'll go check that out. Thanks!

Ene 19, 9:55pm

>195 jnwelch: I believe the first Pattison is on my wish list to read. I think I remember finding it in one of my library's collections so perhaps I'll get to it eventually.

Ene 20, 3:30am

Wishing my friends across the pond a happy 20th January. May it bring the change you want.

Ene 20, 5:43am

I want cake and coffee :(

Ene 20, 5:57am

Happy Wednesday, Richard dear!

Ene 20, 9:13am

Good morning, RDear, and Happy Inauguration Day to you.

>192 Helenliz: That’s funny in a war-weary way.

I'm warming up my schadenfreude muscles for the soon-to-be-ex and his corrupt cohort. Of course he's pardoned lots of them, but there is joy to be had in the defunding of the GOP by some top corporations and the states of New York and Georgia warming up in the wings to go after donny and other members of his family.

Vindictive, me?


Ene 20, 10:20am

>201 karenmarie: Vindictive schadenfreudistic Inauguration Day greetings, Horrible!

I don't think we-the-people are safe, not by a long shot, but fewer of the bullets will come from Above. Now to pack the Supreme Court....

The pause button on corporate "giving" will be pushed to resume the flow in less than 90 days. Or so I confidently predict. They need the Gross Old Plotters to keep the Federal cash-spigot wedged open to fill the pipelines t the tax havens.

>200 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita my dear!

>199 BekkaJo: Coincidentally I am even as we speak having blueberry streusel coffeecake with my coffee!

>198 Helenliz: Awomen, Helen. A-women.

>197 thornton37814: :-)

Ene 20, 10:38am

Definitely orange pound cake today.

Ene 20, 10:40am

>203 Crazymamie: Yummo! And some Death Wish Coffee:

Ene 20, 10:44am


Ene 20, 11:18am

Morning, Richard dear. It is really happening! Squeee!!!!

Ene 20, 12:33pm

Yay. Beautiful ceremony. We've got a new President and Vice President!

Ene 20, 12:36pm

Even I shed a few emotional tears...

Ene 20, 3:16pm

*happy dance*

Ene 20, 5:06pm

>209 katiekrug:

>208 FAMeulstee: Indeed! It's the moment for tearing up!

>207 karenmarie: I didn't see it. See below.

>206 ronincats: TRIPLE*SQUEEE*

>205 Crazymamie: *smooch*
So. I had an interesting morning, culminating in a visit to a cardiologist. One Dr. Duchatellier. The upshot is I am possessed of a healthy heart and unblocked arteries. That is wonderful, soothing news, especially for someone whose parents died after massive strokes. They both smoked, I never have. See the difference, lads and lassies?

There is bloodwork to be done, but the primary source of imminent-death dreams is not to be worried about...and a new medication ordered for blood pressure issues should, I'm reassured, take care of the weird spikes and drops.

Ene 20, 5:17pm

>210 richardderus: Great medical news! Glad you're pumping strong! So you can be fed all the lovely treats by your beloved.

Ene 20, 6:23pm

I'm so pleased you got to see the cardiologist and got some reassurance. xo

Ene 20, 6:35pm

>212 katiekrug: Yes, me too, even if it was a bit more rushed than I'd've liked. Every single person including me was double-masked, cloth on face, disposable over...I saw the staff throwing out their disposables between patients. Most, most reassuring.

>211 justchris: Ha! That's exactly what he said! I commented that today's Times cooking newsletter had a scrummy-sounding ginger/stout cake and he promised to make one for me when he can eat it with me...after both of us have full vaccination. (My first one will be sometime after the 27th; his second is the 31st.)

Ene 20, 9:03pm

Happy Wednesday, and glad to see your trip to the cardiologist turned out to be good news.

Ene 20, 9:15pm

OMG, you're onto a second thread and it is hardly into the 3rd week of January! I didn't find a book bullet, but that's not for lack of your trying to hook me. I'm still keeping some of the titles "in mind" from back in December 2020. That's a different list than BBs.

Do come and visit me. Although I might be off reading and take awhile to be back there...

Ene 20, 9:40pm

I'm glad to know your system still has circulation!

Ene 21, 12:20am

>213 richardderus: Ooh, ginger/stout! That does sound scrummy. As far as I'm concerned, beer is for cooking/baking. I hope you both enjoy your vacations! You've earned them!

Ene 21, 1:26am

>74 richardderus: I just brought A Very English Scandal home from the library today, Richard. I'll be diving into it soon.

That's very pleasing news from the cardiologist and a vaccination scheduled too, things are looking up, Richard.

Ene 21, 2:56am

>210 richardderus: Excellent news - and good to hear of the precautions taken too.

I haven't 'seen' my Doc in a year now - you make an appointment, he calls you, discusses etc, prescribes. It's a bit disconcerting tbh. But it worked well this week - I needed an appointment for my son and ended up doing it whilst he was at school - I'd taken the pics etc and just sent them to the doc via a link he provided. Of course my phone is now full of pictures of my son's chillblained feet...

Ene 21, 3:03am

>210 richardderus: hurrah for a healthy heart.
And welcome to day 1 of the new future. >:-)

Ene 21, 8:50am

Good news on the heart front! I was gonna crack wise about the Tin Man and such, but humor failed me... Need more coffee.

Ene 21, 8:54am

Morning, Richard. Extra Sweet Thursday! Hooray for the strong heart! That is good news, my friend.

Ene 21, 9:13am

‘Morning, RD!

>210 richardderus: I, too, am glad that the cardiologist visit went well, and yay for your first vaccination coming up and YGC’s second.

Second day of the return to political sanity, second day of the beginning of pandemic sanity at the federal level. I could weep with joy over how positive and hopeful I feel.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Editado: Ene 21, 9:33am

Happy Thursday, Richard dear!
Glad to read your heart is healthy, I hope the new medication acts as promised.

Ene 21, 9:33am

Thanks, all, for the happy responses to my hugely relieving health news!
>223 karenmarie: I'm so glad you're feeling A New Hope, Horrible, and justifiably so. Seventeen executive orders on his first day! And all of them restorative and reparative. It does make one's cynical smirking inner Mencken sweeten into more of an Andrew Yang.


Ene 21, 9:36am

>224 FAMeulstee: That's my fondest desire, too, Anita. Thanks!

>222 msf59: It doesn't stink to know my carotids are in fine fettle, Mark, and what a relief to have a doctor whose actual attention was focused on me.

>221 drneutron: Wow, Jim, that *is* a fuzzy start to the day if you can't quite hit that fat one down the middle. Glug, glug, old man.

Ene 21, 9:41am

>220 Helenliz: Back in the WHO...back in the Paris Accord...yeah, a new day is here. SUCH a relief.

Now to do the work.

>219 BekkaJo: Ha! We do the weirdest things when our kids need help, don't we? I'd've been happy to do most doctorial stuff remotely, but I can't do my own echocardiogram with my phone, so a trip to Rockville Centre was in order.

>218 Familyhistorian: Oh good, Meg! I hope you'll be as enrapt in the awful tale as I was.

Yeah...feeling more sanguine than I have in quite some time, I must say.

Ene 21, 9:54am

>217 justchris: The best use of beer, for me anyway, is beer bread: 3C self-raising flour, 12oz beer, 2T sugar. 350 for 45-50 minutes in a 2lb loaf pan lightly greased. No kneading, proving, muss, fuss, or bother...and a delicious side for salad, soup, toasted for a snackwich.

>216 quondame: Best news yet! Still a-pumpin' away.

>215 SandyAMcPherson: I shall coddiwomple thitherward directly, Sandy.

>214 bell7: *smooch*

Ene 21, 11:25am

Glad to hear the good news from the doc, Rdear. *smooch*

Ene 21, 12:11pm

>229 MickyFine: Thank you, Micky, though I'm a bit surprised...I heard tell your pick for my inhumation date was coming up soon.

So sorry to disappoint. :-P

Ene 21, 5:51pm

>219 BekkaJo: Oh dear! Since I've lived all my life in a very temperate climate I've only ever encountered chilblains in books. They sound awful.

Ene 21, 6:49pm

>210 richardderus: Sorry to see you needed to see the doctor but yay for the good heart healthy news!

I started Wolfsong tonight :)

Ene 21, 6:54pm

>233 ChelleBearss: Thanks, Chelle, it's good to know for sure that I'm not heading the way of parental flesh.

YAY for Wolfsong!

>232 quondame: Ugly things, aren't they.

Ene 21, 6:55pm

18 Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait by K.A. Bedford

Rating: 3* of five

Spider Webb. The protagonist. You already know what you need to know to judge if this piece of Antipodean amusement is going to work for you: If you laughed or smiled at the name, go get you one.

What do you get when you make time travel available to the masses? Another bureaucracy, a lot of criminals-by-definition instead of by facts of behavioral pattern, and further income inequality. Wait, WHAT?! Yes, oligarchy can use anything to pursue its aims of economic royalism.

Cheap on the Kindle, worth what I paid, and certainly enough fun to break even in the time-invested versus amusement-returned equation.

Editado: Ene 21, 7:41pm

19 The Devil in Velvet by John Dickson Carr

Rating: 4* of five

An older (1953) title by a prolific and masterful storyteller, this is the spiritual ancestor of, lust, and what happens when the two intersect with foreknowledge. Carr's pithy aperçus and aphorisms, aka dialogue, are a joy to this jaded reader's palate. Expect a tight plot, a heady obsessive love, and political intrigues with dark motives all set in seventeenth-century London.

Some typical lines:
A man of great age sees clearly only the past; that is green, that is bright; and he sees, with helpless clarity, the man he might have been. Perhaps, if you add old thin blood, that is why his emotions are so close to the surface.
Again, a true booklover requires only that the book be old and full of good-for-nothing lore.

The great age mentioned above? Sixty. *snort*

Ene 21, 7:28pm

20 Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

Rating: 3.5* of five

Author Kurlansky's famous for his microhistory Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, so one knows what is coming when selecting one of his books: Lists, lists, lists; lots of vocabulary lessons and smatterings of cultural anthropology. What better time, I ask in all seriousness, than the Plague Lockdown to learn vital (seriously, salt = life) information in a readable, well-researched book? In the vein of Simon Winchester and my doted-on Rose George, dig into Reality with a learnèd guide while enjoying the process.

Ene 21, 7:50pm

CBC Radio's Ideas program from yesterday about why COVID screws up our sense of time. An hour well-spent.

Editado: Ene 21, 8:56pm

21 Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives by Leigh Gilmore

Rating: 4.5* of five


This is an academic work of depth and authority on the ever-vexing topic of what leads Society (my capital) to treat a woman's word as suspect, especially about her own experiences and her own life.

Essentially, women are treated with contempt and rage by men in general. Their words, therefore, when spoken about men and to other men, must be considered in that context...why would she lie, versus when she speaks, she lies. I am *grossly* oversimplifying the latter, and the author does not present her facts about the former, but this is a formulation that gets to the heart of my take-away from the book.

The additional "defect" of Blackness mars a woman's credibility within the white patriarchal systems of "justice" and "fact-finding" because "you know how they are," the loudly quiet evocation of all the slurs, lies, and oppressions used to discredit Black people. Anita Hill's accusations against Clarence Thomas are delved into with some depth. Thirty years later, I still boil when I think of Dr. Hill's vile treatment by the conservative Old Boys' Club in the Senate. (I assert most, if not quite all, Senators are conservative, or were in 1991 anyway.)

Perhaps the most cogent argument Author Gilmore presents in service of her case against social attitudes towards women's bearing witness is the case that neoliberal culture has privileged stories of Overcoming, of Beating the Odds, the System, as opposed to the more realistic way of viewing the System as flawed, broken, unfair, all by design. That design is put in place to keep the powerful protected, and the powerful are white and male. Narratives examining the system's failures are downplayed where they can't be dismissed or vilified. It's that women/the disadvantaged aren't trying hard enough! Look at {insert neoliberal here, eg JD Vance or James Frey}! They overcame their obstacles! Try harder, Jamaica Kincaid, Rigoberta Menchú!

This is balderdash, of course, and the author briskly defangs the "arguments" for it. A pair of examples of this, as well as the author's academic writing style:
A tainted witness is not who someone is but who someone can become in the process of bringing an account into the public sphere.
Tying the evolution of #BlackLivesMatter primarily to its responses to a series of killings of African-American men and boys by police officers, as some articles have, obscures the feminist focus on {B}lack lives broadly. By refusing a presentist framing of the event, #BlackLivesMatter is not, as its founders make clear, only about what happened but about how to frame it, how to bear witness to histories of the present, and how to look at images of death, grief, and protest as a form of ethical engagement.

These are not unclear or grammatically flawed statements; neither are they elegant, nor rhetorically exciting. They are true, unsparingly honest, and effective in making their cases.

I longed for more than that. It wasn't an easy read, it was in many ways an unpleasant book to read due to its trenchant indictment of privileged peoples and people's cynical, lazy, and cruel means of disempowering and devaluing The Others to maintain their privilege. I'm seeking a rousing call to arms, though, and while I wasn't promised this when I chose this book to read and review, I had set my hopes on it.

ETA spellings cuz I r uh eejit

Editado: Ene 21, 8:57pm

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

Ene 21, 10:40pm

>234 richardderus: Well, it's been long and long since I searched out a picture as I recalled not liking the looks of them. My least favorite present ever was my sister-the-medical-school-student's spare illustrated medical guide volume on skin diseases. She had decided that I should go to medical school. I don't resent the extra classes I took, but that book, horrors.

Ene 22, 1:07am

>228 richardderus: And for me, the best use of beer is boiling brats, but your beer bread is a close second. I'll have to try that!

>236 richardderus: If it has the charm(?) of Outlander without the defects, I will definitely look into it.

>237 richardderus: I think I already have this one marked TBR.

>238 richardderus: Hmmm. At first my ears perked up, and I thought this might be a great read for my social justice book club. But it sound like the prose will be off-putting for too many of our people. We're reading Color of Law for next month, or at least will be when we get the copies from the library/bookstore--bit of a supply issue right now.

Ene 22, 1:49am

>236 richardderus: So ... you're not seeing with clarity?

>241 quondame: Eeugh. When I was expecting my first, they had various 'courses' at the hospital including one called something like 'normal abnormalities' which described things like strawberry birthmarks and had a slide show which displayed the most horrendous examples the paediatrician could find. Of course, I knew my baby would be perfect - and of course, he ended up having most of them, but barely noticeable and they all faded.

Guess which paediatrician the hospital allocated for our brand new baby's first and second check-ups? And we had him again for our second baby.

Oh, I've been meaning to tell you, Richard, we've now got the GBBO latest season, so I saw the cake busts from the first episode. I watched episode 7 last night, with the kawaii cakes. Did you get a chance to watch the Australian Junior Masterchef? You might also want to check out Junior Bake Off, although Paul and Prue aren't the judges. Nadiya, who won an earlier GBBO (and now has her own show) is one of them, though.

>219 BekkaJo: Chillblaines, more eeugh. I've learned from experience to layer like crazy (tights under jeans, two pairs of socks - not one pair of thick socks) and keep the core warm. And keep wiggling those toes.

Editado: Ene 22, 2:07am

>243 humouress: I'm glad they didn't have that when I was doing the new parent classes. Baby Becky was practically perfect and a wonder that such a fresh new person could come from such gnarly critters a Mike and I.

Ene 22, 3:03am

>232 quondame: >243 humouress: They are rubbish! Mine are bad enough but his started peeling layers of skin off...

Sorry Richard, I may have grossed up your thread a bit. Happy Friday smoochies!

Ene 22, 8:38am

Good morning, RDear, and happy Friday to you.

>236 richardderus: Sounds excellent. I’ve added it to my wish list. I almost hesitate to mention it but will – an excellent time-travel romance by Jude Deveraux, A Knight in Shining Armor. What I particularly like about it is that Nicholas Stafford deliberately goes back and forth in time to change history.

>237 richardderus: I don’t remember why I abandoned Salt, but it’s still patiently waiting for me have a go at it again – I’ll need to restart it because it’s been so long.


Ene 22, 9:59am

22 Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Rating: 4* of five


I'm not a spoilerphobe, as I've mentioned before, but there are certain events in this book that it would just rot on ice for you not to see for yourself for the first time. So there will be some tap-dancing around some events.

What matters to me in a read, the thing I seek and must find or I'm put out and feel I've been hard done by, is the sense that I'm seeing characters make efforts, take chances, do things, and as a result of whatever combination of those things the author chooses, they need to change. Not necessarily dramatically, or for the better or for the worse. But there needs to be some perceptible alteration in that character's life, sense of purpose, or station.

That is very much not a problem in this story.

Immigrant Francis is Irish to his core. He moves to New York because 1970s Ireland was not the Celtic Tiger it became decades on. His adjustment to American manners and mores wasn't easy on him, but he fell in love with the right woman and built a life with her. So that base is solid, right?

It is a truth universally recognized that people are their own worst enemies. Actions that seem, in the moment, inevitable or destined to occur are deeply stupid and cause problems it's hard to imagine. Yet here we are, with only the moment to live and as often as not without a clear understanding of the past to build on. As Author Keane says, "We repeat what we don't repair." That just rang me like a bell the first time I read it. Such a lovely, distilled way to say the truth as I've learned it the hard way.
The quiet of the house when she kept to her room was not the peaceful silence of a library, or anywhere near as tranquil. It was...more like the held-breath interlude between when a button gets pushed and the bomb either detonates or is defused. He could feel his own heartbeat at those times. He could track his blood as it looped through his veins.

Families are the prime breeding ground for things that need repair. Most often we don't see ourselves, of course, since it's incredibly easy to see in others and there's even this thing called "fiction" to feed our schadenfreude watching others screw up chances to repair the damage done to us. But some damage is done in some families that is, in the truest sense of these words, irreparable and unforgivable. That's when the stories get really good.
Telling her, bringing that story to England, spoiled England for her. When she left for America two years later, she knew she would be smarter. She'd bring none of Ireland with her.

But no matter where you go, there you are, right? Our selves and our bodies are coterminous if not identical, where one goes there the other is as well. It's not always that great a feeling. But unless we repair the breaks,'re adults, you know already. And how sad, how burdensome is that knowledge.

The burden travels down generational rivers, too. In this story, Peter the son of truly miserable man and truly evil woman, falls for Kate the daughter of stoic parents whose inability to communicate doesn't keep them from mangling each other. There's a bad patch (!!) and the young people are separated against their wills; there's a reunion, and what flowers is a very beautiful blossom of hope and love.
He dreamed of sharing an apartment with Kate someday, coming home to her each evening and telling her about his day, hearing about hers, going to bed naked with the covers pulled up to their chins, feeling her warm skin next to his when he woke up every morning.
If they could do all those things and pay their bills and not dread going to work each morning, coming home each night, then that was a life. That was a great life, in Kate’s view. What else could there be? If they reminded themselves that these small things were enough, she believed, then they’d always be okay.

They're having different relationships. That's so often the way with couples, and sadly most often between couples freshly in love. The true emotional core of the party of the second part isn't always easy to reach, but the fact is most people don't really even ever try. It's hard. It's vulnerable. It's often met with anger or rejection or outrage. Who tries, they are abusive! Intrusive! I need my space! Who resists, they are elusive! They are secretive! Why won't you trust me and let me in?

Surviving those shoals, accommodating each other and bending to and fro, allowance-making and temperature-taking, survival...until new shoals hove into view as soon as the seas looked smooth.
And then she saw it so clearly, the whole trajectory of their lives, a twin flare of lights against the gunmetal winter sky: we're born, we get sick, we die. Beginning, middle, end. She saw her life as if held aloft by her own hand, and in an instant it spun away from her. Where did she want it to land? She was in the middle. The exact middle. Peter too. How could she have failed to notice that the beginning had come to an end?
It wasn’t that she didn’t love him, he knew. It was that she loved him so much that it frightened her, loved him so much that she worried she might have to protect herself from it. He tried to let her know that he’d figured that out, finally, that there was no need to explain, but then he realized that she might not know it herself.

It is a damn difficult thing to keep being in a present-tense relationship with someone over a long period of time.
They'd both learned that a memory is a fact that has been dyed and trimmed and rinsed so many times that it comes out looking almost unrecognizable to anyone else who was in that room or anyone who was standing on the grass beneath that telephone pole.

Allow this novel's steady pace to lead you where the story goes. Possess your soul in patience, don't get agitated and skip and flip; stand on the grass with Author Keane. Make a memory. Make it well.

Ene 22, 11:15am

Happy Friday, RD!

I've got the Keane on my Kindle. Must get to it soon!

Editado: Ene 22, 12:35pm

>248 katiekrug: If it's there already, hell to the yes! Crack that puppy.

>246 karenmarie: Happy Friday, Horrible! Happy to have a weekend ahead without any of 45's shenaniganery making me wince.

Don't sprain anything to get Salt back...I don't think it's deft enough to make you feel like you've invested your eyeblinks wisely. He's tolerable at writing, excellent at organization, and aces at research.

I think The Devil in Velvet will please you, based on what you told me about the Devereaux! It goes on Kindlesale for $1.99 every so often & it's worth that and more.


>245 BekkaJo:, >244 quondame:, >243 humouress:, >241 quondame: Ew! No more chilblains, please!

>243 humouress: We're constrained in the GBBO derby by what Netflix buys and when they can show it, but since Liam is also one of the judges and I have a wee crush on him, I'm all over Junior Bake Off as soon as it hits.

Also: *thpppthhthhbbbbt*

>242 justchris: I think you'd like The Devil in Velvet, Chris. It's a thumping good read!

I do not think a non-academic will like reading Tainted Witness! Very very very dry prose and, while I agree with almost everything she says, the way she says it requires extra decoding time.

>240 tututhefirst: Tina? Hello? Please come back!

Ene 22, 12:34pm

23 Stars in His Eyes by Martí Gironell

Rating: 3* of five


I'll just start this review with the statement that dropping the w-bomb this often is a crime against literature.

Three names, Cefe (birth name), Justo (assumed name in New York, where US ally Franco's spies find him), Jean Leon (final alias in Hollywood, which more or less holds), are needed to get our main character from dodging the draft in Phalangist Spain to his glittering restauranteurship in Hollywood. A man of parts, then, a man whose life is going to be exciting, right?

Wellll...not *exactly* the case. Not the fault of the story, but the storyteller and/or translator.

I most often spend a good deal of a review quoting from the author's writing. In reviewing translations, that's often a cheat as I see it; how would I know what the author's writing is like, I'm reading someone's interpretation of it. But this story's writing is not particularly exciting to me. The story is an important one, and won a Catalan literary prize in 2018. Immigrants who come to the US to start anew, whether for personal reasons or governmental ones, and who change their identities in the process, are important members of the American body politic.

The current administration sworn in this week agrees with me, and has reinstated many important channels by which those born elsewhere can fully join in US society. In our PoV character's case, things theory, our government supported the one he fled from serving with his life. Their spies did find draft dodgers here and repatriate them. However, there was not any sense by the US Government of necessary aid for the seekers and no sense at all of need to assist or hinder the sought. So Jean Leon (let's go with that one, the last one) exists in a legal precarity, but makes his way into circles of social power by his mastery of food.

His Hollywood life was a glamourous one, rubbing elbows with stars made (eg Sinatra) and in the making (eg James Dean). He's a fixer of problems, as most restaurateurs are, giving alibis and setting scenes for public consumption. He does the usual things, like marrying and having children; but remember that Catalan family he came from? He left them. Anything that happened to the last one will happen to the next. And it does.

As characters go, Jean Leon does not draw one's admiration. He's completely self-centered and very selfish. But he's like many men of his generation in that he worked as hard as he possibly could at a career that stole him from any possibility of connection with his families. His role was being a provider; what was wrong with that idea was that it didn't take into account what the family's other members might want. His wife would've preferred that he be there for the kids and for her in the crises that family life inevitably contains...and he never is.

The basic issue for me was the characters at the heart of the tale being pale. They were watercolors set into an oil painting as a background. Jean Leon is always in motion, always doing, acting, making. And that doesn't make him interesting to follow, just so speedily retreating that we're either going to give up chasing him or run after him at top speed and not get any sense of connection with him or those around him.

In a lot of ways, though, that was the point. Men at that time, in his station of life, weren't available for serious relationships. Famous people are, inevitably, users of those around them. Marriages aren't always the best breeding ground for a clear and satisfying view of the other's authentic self...the Intimate Enemy issue is not a psychologist's jargonistic exaggeration. So there's no reason to *fault* Author Gironell or Translator West...just to say that this isn't a relationship I myownself enjoyed having with the people in this story.

Structurally, the management of time's passing was ineffective in creating tension or narrative momentum. In the middle of a chapter, almost two years pass with a new paragraph headed, "Just over a year and a half later..."! No no no! This is sloppy editing and lazy writing. It isn't the only example I could cite, but it's the one that got up my nose the worst.

I read it but I didn't get it. As a cautionary tale of the Price of Ambition and the Cruelty of Fame, yeah okay. But as a chronicle of an interesting man's journey to...what? he doesn't change, really...somewhere inside himself, it's wanting.

The best reader for this book is a Fifties Hollywood buff.

Ene 22, 1:01pm

Happy Friday, Richard!

Good reviews, one and all. What a treat to see a John Dickson Carr book reviewed! My parents had a bunch when I was growing up and I read them all. It occurred to me recently that I hardly see mention of him these days, so I have one on my tbr shelf for refreshing.

Kudos to you for reading Tainted Witness. The problem drives me nuts, but I feel like I want to read a better book about it, in a less academic style.

Looking forward to hearing what you think of Inspector Shan. He's adept at survival as well as detecting, that one.

Ene 22, 1:40pm

>251 jnwelch: Thank you most kindly, Joe...I haven't seen a lot of Carr mentions, and that is really too bad since he's got so many books to offer! I'm fairly sure I have some more cheapie Kindlesale books of his...I hope I do, anyway.

(And someone please tell me why this story was never filmed?! Imagine what a cool movie it would make!)

It's a rough problem to remain fully present in combating, it's true, and a *good* read would be of a great help. This book was well argued and tediously presented.

I'll post a Skull Mantra review in Mysterious May, I'm thinkin'.

Ene 22, 1:53pm

No way to catch up, but I'm glad I at least visited. Good Health to you, Richard! I'm glad to hear your positive news. Thrilled beyond saying to wake up from one national nightmare and not have to dread turning on breaking news, at least as far as further alarm from the White House is concerned.
I'll have to come back some other time, but I'm really happy to have *Blackfish* on my Kindle now. Thanks!

Editado: Ene 22, 2:41pm

>253 LizzieD: Hi Peggy! Oh, that bugaboo "catching up" has no hold around these here when here is where you want to be, and start talkin'. I see no good coming from pressuring ourselves to do things "right" or whatever! And you should eat Blackfish City up with a spoon, it's so full of fabulous as our friend the Mamester says.

Your other point reminds me of this, which I just posted on Mark's thread:

Mar-a-Lago delendus est. (corrected!)

Ene 22, 4:21pm

Happy Friday, Richard. Yep, there is all ready a Bernie Bobble-Head doll. I may even get this one.

>254 richardderus: Yep, I love this one.

Ene 22, 5:08pm

Happy Friday RD. Personally, this day can't end any quicker (shite day at work, heck shite week, TBH), oh well. Not independently wealthy yet..

>237 richardderus: Salt, just put this on the WL, heard about on a podcast or something. Glad you liked it.

Ene 22, 5:37pm

I told someone on Facebook the Bernie meme reminded me of "Where's Waldo?" I quickly learned someone had placed him in a Waldo collage and someone even posted the photo for me. Allen County Public Library had Bernie visit their children's play area. Someone from the genealogical society in the oldest town in Tennessee told me Bernie had been all over their town.

Ene 22, 5:41pm

>257 thornton37814: - Or, if you are a teacher of a certain age group of kids, he could be like Flat Stanley. My class had a lot of fun with him many years ago...;-) *Flat Bernie* travels

Ene 22, 7:06pm

>258 jessibud2: *snort* Why am I not surprised.

>257 thornton37814: Good heavens! What the heck is wrong with people! Are they this giddy that 45 is no longer president?

>256 mahsdad: Oh good, Jeff! I expect you'll love it even though it doesn't have entire pages of CSV tables of integers.

No, I'm not over that yet. Still wake up afraid The Count is coming after me.

>255 msf59: A Bobble-Bern. For real? An actual Bobble-Bern. W.O.W.

I am gobsmacked.

Ene 22, 8:15pm

>247 richardderus: So, the first book that gets added to the interesting list for 2021. Not the first book I immediately checked out or reserved at the library though. I still have 15 left from 2020, but non of them from you - I must have read all of those.

Ene 22, 8:40pm

Happy weekend, Richard.

Lot's of great reading going on here!

>237 richardderus: I have that one somewhere.... Glad it was not a tedious read.

Ene 22, 9:05pm

Great to hear about your healthy heart Richard.

I just am happy to know I will wake up and not think right off the bat....what horrible, awful, disgusting thing has been said, or tweeted, or implied while I was asleep. Just calmness, honesty, and decency. To say nothing of competence.

Ene 22, 9:47pm

>262 brenzi: I liked the Press Secretary announcing today that President Biden spent no time at all thinking about the color scheme on Air Force One.


>261 figsfromthistle: Thank you Anita, and the same wishes heartily returned! I've had a lot of quick re-visits of prior reads, so that accounts for the huge numbers. I only wish I was such a machine still!

>260 quondame: It's very likely, given the overlap among us velocireaders!

Ene 22, 9:59pm

>259 richardderus: After a genealogist-colleague developed cancer and was no longer able to travel to the conferences, we developed a "flat" version of her who was photographed with different people at the conferences or other genealogy events. Sadly she passed away.

Editado: Ene 22, 11:09pm

>263 richardderus: I thought of it as greedily gobbling the good bites off the plate! But I've a tendency toward food similes when I like something.

Ene 23, 2:06am

>249 richardderus: So mature. I see you're vigorously denying your 60 then?

Ene 23, 9:10am

‘Morning, RDear, and a very happy Saturday to you.

>255 msf59: Delayed gratification - they'll ship in May.

>259 richardderus: Are they this giddy that 45 is no longer president? Giddy is a very good word to describe it.

Ene 23, 9:33am

Happy Saturday, Richard!

>255 msf59: Could you imagine waking up and finding out that you're a meme star overnight? I wonder if he thinks it's as hilarious as the rest of the world does?

Ene 23, 10:59am

It's the Mittens

Ene 23, 11:09am

24 The Road to Urbino by Roma Tearne

Rating: 3.5* of five


Similar to Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch in initial art crime reverberates through the characters' lives, the painting that's stolen has resonances in the story's structure that only reveal themselves the deeper you get...Roma Tearne did not decide to re-write someone else's idea by any means.

When Ras, one of our main characters, escapes his war-torn country after terrible losses, he looks at the UK with the hungry eyes of a victim in search of a savior. The trouble with that, Ras, is that no external being can save you from yourself. He does experience the blessing of a peaceful country's many opportunities, and he takes advantage of them. Job as a museum curator, marriage, a family, a life...all the good stuff. The issue for Ras is, of course, the unhealed horrors of genocide live in his brain. His wife gives him a daughter, as he sees it, and he dotes on the child. Not so much on the mother. Lavish loving attention but nothing for Mama? The inevitable occurs, and the illusion of normal life is ripped apart again.

Lola, his daughter, is a case study in "when bad children happen to loving fathers." Spoiled by his undivided attention and by nature selfish, she is a Hot Mess. Listening to Daddy's stories of the Old Country is a way to get what she wants, but not in the least a way to feel connected to him or to the weird foreign place he originates. Ras isn't a reflective person, at least not at first, but he pips to his essential trapped loneliness at last. What does he do, go to a shrink? No. He goes to Italy! He will tour the countryside and Look At Art.

He does this, all right. He looks at Piero della Francesca's The Flagellation of Christ a bit wrong.

The rest of the review is at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud because it's too long for here.

Ene 23, 11:19am

>269 magicians_nephew: I suppose it is, at that.

>268 ChelleBearss: He's made a sweatshirt out of it, proceeds go to charity, so I'm thinkin' yeah. (Check out Etsy for a zillion others, too!)

>267 karenmarie: Giddy is a seriously underused word. And the Berniememe bunch seem to me to exemplify it!

Shivering Saturday *smooch*

(It's COLD here today!)

Ene 23, 11:26am

>266 humouress: I'm not sixty, I'm sixty-one. I have earned that extra year (and at least ten more)! REALLY. Sick. Of. Lockdown.

>265 quondame: Apt simile, and effective. We're a snatch-and-gobble bunch when it comes to literary comestibles.

>264 thornton37814: That's a very sad, though amusing, story. Having a flat, easy-to-pack version of someone who can't be there is a great idea in a close-knit world like genealogists.

Editado: Ene 23, 11:41am

>272 richardderus: Sor-ry! And that one (or ten) extra year entitles you to blow raspberries, does it?

>249 richardderus: Liam from Bake Off is kind of cute, hey? I've also seen him on 'Bake Off: the Professionals'. So you have a thing for the military type, then. Does your YGC know this?

Ene 23, 11:57am

>273 humouress: I need permission to blow razzberries...

Yep, he's aware of my...interest...and quite pursey-lipped about it, to be honest. He is so adorable when his nose is out of joint.

Ene 23, 12:09pm

Afternoon, BigDaddy!

>269 magicians_nephew: I concur.

Ene 23, 12:45pm

Happy Weekend, Richard!

Ene 23, 1:55pm

>276 connie53: Thank you, Connie! I wish the same for you.

>275 Crazymamie: *smooch*

Ene 23, 5:22pm

Hi Richard, i hope this finds you well and that you are having a good start to the weekend, sending love and hugs from both of us dear friend.

Ene 23, 7:03pm

>278 johnsimpson: Hi John, thanks for the well-wishes and I return them most heartily to you and to Karen!

Ene 23, 7:39pm

Happy weekend, Richard!

Ene 23, 11:09pm

Hello RD,
Just cruising by. I think I had an LT glitch as hardly any of my starred threads were showing up, and now I have them all back and see I am well behind my rounds :)

Bernie Bobble head and his digital 2-D renditions are keeping me well entertained these days, I have to say.

Carry on good sir.
*bows out*

Ene 24, 9:45am

Happy Sunday *smooches* and hope you're enjoying the weekend.

My family's been entertaining themselves sharing some of the best Bernie memes in our group text.

Ene 24, 10:49am

25 The Goddess Abides: A Novel by Pearl S. Buck

Rating: 3.5* of five

It is sweet to be loved, but to be able to love is to possess the life force. I love you. Therefore I am strong. Whatever my age, I am sustained by my own power to love.

A novel whose age shows...telegrams, utter failure of the Bechdel Test...but whose meditations on Love in its many, mutable manners are in the veriest sense of the word timeless. An "older" (43!!) widow is torn between a young man's desire for her and an older man's long-standing regard for her, her perceived duty to her children and grandchildren, and her desire for selfhood at last. Assuming you're familiar with the entire genre of women's fiction, you'll know if this is agreeable to you; I found it a rich, enfolding hoary-old-story larded with The Best Aperçus!


Ene 24, 11:04am

>282 bell7: Happy Sunday, Mary! It's been very cold here, and I'm snuggled under two blankys and slurping coffee like it's going out of style.

The Bernie meme...oh my...what a difference a day makes! I'm pretty sure he's never been this famous, even when he was running for pres.


>281 LovingLit: Heya, Megan! The Internet's magical powers are never more amazing to me than when a nice Kiwi lady talks to me, in New York, about a US Senator's media presence.


Come visit soon!

>280 drneutron: Hi Jim! It's been a weekend, all right, with 2,000 Moderna vaccines "accidentally" ruined by a cleaner who unplugged a fridge, Moscow Mitch McTraitor whining about filibusters being used against his sacred little Russian-mole self, and forcing the Dems to delay 45's trial until the 9th so people will forget why it was necessary & his coterie of scum can scupper it without consequences.

Death is too good for that blot on the escutcheon of Humankind.

Ene 24, 12:51pm

Hope you're having a warm and cozy book filled Sunday!

Ene 24, 1:48pm

>285 ChelleBearss: Thanks, Chelle, right back at'cha!

Ene 24, 2:12pm

It *is* cold, isn't it? That wind is biting. Poor Nuala will not be getting as much exercise as usual...

Because I like to be contrary and am not a Bernie fan, I was over the memes pretty fast. The cleverest, to me, was the pottery clip from 'Ghost' with Demi Moore :-P

Ene 24, 2:57pm

You sound warm and comfy, Richard. Sorry to hear about your cold. They warned us of snow here and I looked out the window this morning with some trepidation but its just rain. I'm used to that and can handle it.

I've started A Very English Scandal. Just got to the part about the doctor who put people to sleep for a week claiming they would reawaken as heterosexuals. The '60s was indeed a different time but I don't remember feeling that gullible.

Just mentioning here that I miss your visits to my thread in case that is an oversight on your part.

Ene 24, 3:07pm

>210 richardderus: Huzzah for a healthy ticker!

Editado: Ene 24, 3:11pm

>289 London_StJ: Thank you, Londondearie, you have NO idea what a relief it was to hear him say "your heart and arteries are just fine." Considering the specters of those parental strokes.

>288 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg! Where's your thread? When did you last post? I'm apparently lost on several threads...haven't seen PC in a week, f/ex, and if he's stopped posting the Straits Times failed to report on

Well, everyone's welcome on my third thread!

Ene 24, 10:25pm

>274 richardderus: Such a gentleman *sigh*

No, no, carry on. Not childish at all. *mutters 'blinkin' Y genes. and I have the good fortune to be surrounded by four of them'* ;0)
Este tema fue continuado por richardderus's third 2021 thread.