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Something About Winter Wednesday

What I've Finished Reading

Not much! Uninteresting circumstances have made it hard for me to concentrate this week, so I didn't get far with any books that aren't super easy to read. I finished Mort, in which Death takes a human apprentice and tries to get a more relaxing job "maybe something nice with cats or flowers." The apprentice screws everything up due to excessive compassion and anyway, Death isn't allowed to take a break; it's as bad as being a fictional detective. I read Hot Water by P. G. Wodehouse, which was pleasantly full of American con artists trying to con one another.

I did finish The Body, which I liked a lot, though there was a caricature of myself at 19 at the back of my mind going, "Ugh, another book about male jealousy, ugh" and worrying that Bishop was going to kill his wife in the end. But my present self thought it was beautifully written, funny and suspenseful. It's like Leontes' monologue in The Winter's Tale, but suburban: two great tastes that turn out to go great together. And Bishop's jellyfish uxoriousness is appealing even as he's tearing himself to pieces for no reason - or possibly that's just me. Anyway, another hit from the 99 Novels list.

What I'm Reading Now

A bunch of things I keep closing after five pages, through no fault of their own.

I promised osprey_archer I would join her in reading Lady Chatterly's Lover, so I started that this morning. The last thing I read by D. H. Lawrence was in 2008 or so and I vaguely remembered his prose style being kind of overheated and fairy-taleish (possibly incorrectly) so I was surprised that the first two chapters of LCL are extremely straightforward and explanatory, almost like a Baby-Sitters' Club opening chapter, where everyone's traits are dealt out to us at the outset. Connie and Clifford married without knowing each other very well, then Clifford went to war and came back paralyzed from the waist down. Clifford wants to be a writer but is thwarted by his lack of an inner life, or something like that; Connie wants a sex life but is thwarted by Clifford's paralysis. Cultural osmosis (and the back cover) tells me that this book will be about Connie having an affair, or maybe several affairs, rather than about Clifford and Connie learning to work with Clifford's limitations. But we'll see!

What I Plan to Read Next

It's C. P. Snow time again! And I'll have to catch up with my other books sometime, hopefully soon.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
a_phoenixdragon
May. 4th, 2016 09:06 pm (UTC)
*HUGS*
osprey_archer
May. 5th, 2016 01:08 am (UTC)
Hahaha, fortuitously I read the first two chapters of Lady Chatterley's Lover today too, and yes! It is like a Babysitters Club "let's meet all the club members" chapter! I bet no one else has ever made that comparison.

Did you read lots of Baby-sitters Club books? I read a bunch of them, although I tended to focus on the titles with my favorite sitters: Claudia and Mallory and Mary-Ann, who I liked probably because they were (in their various ways) the ones who were most like me. But I read a smattering of the books featuring the others, too, because I didn't want to leave anyone out. Also I really liked the books where the baby sitters encounter various social issues/disabilities: child abuse! autism! Down syndrome! that one book where Jessie learns sign language!, so I would read those no matter which babysitter was the lead.
evelyn_b
May. 5th, 2016 01:25 pm (UTC)
SO MANY. There was a wire carousel full of them at the library, and they were endless.

They were one of the few things I read and liked as a child that took place in "the present," but it was such a weird present that it felt less "real" than the books set in the past.

So many important lessons in one tiny town! (or was it a tiny town? I don't remember) and so many adults willing to let twelve-year-olds work it all out in the course of a three-hour babysitting session. I don't remember most of the Serious Issues you mentioned, but I do remember Jessi's Secret Language! and the one with the very serious lesson about practical joking when Claudia breaks her leg.

Occasionally, someone would say, "Maybe we shouldn't leave these plucky middle schoolers in charge of everything all the time," but this was an unreasonable opinion; the Baby-Sitters can handle anything, once they learn the right lesson!
osprey_archer
May. 5th, 2016 03:23 pm (UTC)
Yes! My library had a carousel of BSC books too. I read sooo many of them, but I know I never got anywhere close to reading the whole series.

I was never quite clear how big Stoneybrooke was. It had its own art gallery, so it can't have been too tiny, I guess? And at the time it never seemed odd to me that the parents of Stoneybrooke were willing to leave their children with these itty-bitty baby-sitters - Mallory and Jessie were only eleven! Which I guess seemed terribly mature to me as an eight-year-old. But looking back, wow.

I also liked the one where Mallory went away to boarding school. I've seen people complain that Ann M. Martin didn't like Mallory as much as the others, but I disagree: who gives a cool boarding school plot to a character they don't like? And the main evidence of Mallory's disfavor seems to be that she wasn't as pretty as the other sitters, but, you know, some people just aren't pretty, it seems reasonable to me to have a less-pretty character.
lost_spook
May. 5th, 2016 12:37 pm (UTC)
Death isn't allowed to take a break; it's as bad as being a fictional detective.

I suppose if fictional Death took a break, the fictional detectives might finally get a holiday and where would the world be?

(Is it a first read or a re-read?)

Glad you had some PGW in the midst of your uninteresting circumstances.

I have never read Lady Chatterley's Lover, but it was on my Granny's bookshelves in her spare room when I was young, so I have looked at it many a time. (I looked at books in my Granny's spare room. I think the only ones I actually read were Lorna Doone and Sense and Sensibility.) My Mum was shocked to find Granny had it, along with a couple of other historical romances but I told her it was so, and she decided they must have come from my great-Aunt after she died. The one I stared at was a Penguin one with a picture from some film or Tv adapatation. Cultural osmosis and staring at the cover muchly in the past tells me it is the gamekeeper but I don't know if there are others, or she only likes gamekeepers.

Edited at 2016-05-05 12:38 pm (UTC)
evelyn_b
May. 5th, 2016 01:43 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, when Death takes a holiday, all the "life energy" has nowhere to go, so it just whirls around causing trouble and no one gets any peace. This is a first read - I've made up my mind to read some Terry Pratchett other than Hogfather. Death is an unexpectedly (or maybe not so unexpectedly) sympathetic character.
sue_bursztynski
May. 6th, 2016 05:43 am (UTC)
Mort was my first Pratchett read. I loved it and kept going. I'm wondering if that "life energy" thing you mention is the one from Reaper Man? In that novel, Death gets the sack and the life energy is all over the place until a new Death is hired. In Mort, the hero just stuffs up and a character who was supposed to die survives, causing a lot of problems, so she has to hire a wizard to see her because hardly anyone else notices her, since she's supposed to be dead.
evelyn_b
May. 6th, 2016 05:53 am (UTC)
I'm reading Reaper Man right now! :D So yes, that's almost certainly where I got the idea. Poor Death. I love his adventures in farm labor and being bad at things in order to make friends.

Mort is a good place to start (I've decided, having read a total of two and a half Pratchett books so far). I actually started with Hogfather, which I liked, but Mort seemed to have a bit more introduction and also felt slightly more focused to me.
sue_bursztynski
May. 8th, 2016 07:19 am (UTC)
Yes, Mort is a good place to start. Hogfather is delightful, but it's the second book about Susan. She makes her first appearance in Soul Music, as a teenager still at school. Susan is, of course, the daughter of Mort and Ysabell.
wordsofastory
May. 6th, 2016 07:09 pm (UTC)
Hot Water totally sounds like my kind of thing.

I have a copy of Lady Chatterly's Lover that I bought... God, probably at least ten years ago now! in the theory that I should read it because it is an Important Classic. Instead I have been toting it from one apartment to another all this time, and still have not so much as opened it.
evelyn_b
May. 7th, 2016 12:59 am (UTC)
Join the reading club! I have no idea how important it is, but it's a very easy read so far and has lots of dudes pontificating self-importantly in drawing rooms about the relationship between Literature and Life, plus melancholy nods to how the war ruined everything.

Hot Water is excellent. I love Wodehouse's American con men almost as much as I love Bertie. It's a beautiful moving puzzle of a plot, too: you can see the final piece coming from ten miles away but that only makes it better when it finally clicks into place and the whole thing chimes together.

Edited at 2016-05-07 01:07 am (UTC)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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