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Wednesday Reading Bare Minimum

What I've Just Finished Reading

The Invention of Murder was just as good all the way through, and I'm probably going to grab one of Judith Flanders' other books from the library today or tomorrow. I also finally got back to The Untelling, a quiet, heartbreaking but realistically hopeful novel about secrets and loss. That is a much vaguer summary than this very specific book deserves, but I've just finished it twenty minutes ago and I'm not sure what to say about it. There's a great sense of place (the entire book takes place in Atlanta) and of time and the differences, irreconcilable and otherwise, between the experiences and perspectives of people who are otherwise close, and everyone is deeply flawed but ultimately sympathetic. I might have something more to say about it soon, or I might not, but I really liked it.

What I'm Reading Now

I've picked up A Distant Trumpet, the next selection in the Water Damage Club and the largest book in the box. I haven't read very far into it and it's made remarkably little impression on me, maybe just because I've been reading it in pieces while distracted or tired. There's a small town and some dust and a train and I don't love anyone yet, but it's early; I'm not worried.

Also: Five Red Herrings, Dorothy Sayers' worst detective novel(?) It's too soon to say for sure, but it's pretty bad so far. Wimsey and the narrator both seem decidely off their game for some reason, the dialogue is tedious and all the supporting characters are missing, which makes for a fairly joyless landscape. Worst of all, a piece of information about the initial investigation is deliberately omitted under the pretense that the reader will want to "figure it out." This is the exact opposite of what I want from a detective novel. I want the narrator to tell me everything I need to know in a breezy style so that I can feel smart without effort, not to read the same indifferently-written paragraph eighty times to try to figure out what I'm missing. I didn't guess, and I didn't re-read the paragraph; life is too short for that. It'll have to come out eventually. There's still time for the rest of the book to pick up anyway, but I don't have a lot of confidence that it will.

What I Plan to Read Next

I still mean to finish The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, probably soonish, I have an order out for the first three Ngaio Marsh books, and I finally looked up which of Agatha Christie's books have Ariadne Oliver in them; I realized that if I just keep on picking up random Christie books hoping for Ariadne Oliver, I might go on picking up random Christie books until the heat death of the universe. Now I can just make a list and take it to the library like a reasonable person. Sometimes it's good to have a system.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
wordsofastory
Feb. 4th, 2015 08:37 pm (UTC)
I've heard so many good things about The Invention of Murder! I really need to read it myself.

evelyn_b
Feb. 4th, 2015 09:41 pm (UTC)
It's amazing! Probably the best nonfiction book I've read since The Warmth of Other Suns. You will not regret it for a second (unless maybe you had other plans that get hopelessly sidetracked by Victorian novels, but I don't personally count that as a "regret"). And there are dryly witty footnotes!
wordsofastory
Feb. 4th, 2015 10:07 pm (UTC)
The Warmth of Other Suns is another one sitting on my (virtual) shelf and waiting for me to get around to it! At least it's nice to know I have good books waiting for me; being able to find nothing interesting to read is the worst feeling.
lost_spook
Feb. 4th, 2015 08:41 pm (UTC)
I'd seen you mention The Invention of Murder before, but not that it was by Judith Flanders! Seeing that I assumed the Victorians might well be involved, and, yay, yes. Have put that on my wishlist. (I do read quite a bit of social history, well, when I'm not ill anyway, and I enjoyed Consuming Passions and The Victorian House, and so her moving onto detective-y things and no doubt Wilkie Collins will be lovely.)

I really should re-read Dorothy Sayers some day, because it's been a while, but I gave all my copies away for some reason. I think I didn't like Five Red Herrings so much as well, but I can't remember. (:loL: sorry, pointless comment is pointless!)
evelyn_b
Feb. 4th, 2015 09:55 pm (UTC)
YES SO MUCH WILKIE COLLINS. <3

The entire book is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Based solely on this comment and the fact that it is AMAZING, I predict that you will love it.

Sayers was my introduction to the post-Sherlock Holmes mystery genre, and I'm pretty sure she's already become one of those immovable favorites whom I am stuck loving forever no matter what they do, but right now Five Red Herrings is Slog City, capital of Sloginhamshire, in the Slogsloughs region of Slogovia, and you should probably re-read something better instead.

Edited at 2015-02-04 09:58 pm (UTC)
lost_spook
Feb. 5th, 2015 12:38 pm (UTC)
YES SO MUCH WILKIE COLLINS. <3

Ahaha, YES. Good. <3

My concentration is up and down anyway, and I think it'll be a long while before I can re-read Sayers - and I definitely wouldn't go straight for Five Red Herring! I also can't read the one with Nine Tailors because it freaked me out too much. But I should re-read the rest, because I don't think I appreciated them properly at the time.

Edited at 2015-02-05 12:40 pm (UTC)
evelyn_b
Feb. 5th, 2015 08:06 pm (UTC)
Now it's my turn to make a pointless comment, because I was just thinking of The Nine Tailors! I've started watching a lot of Doctor Who, and one of the monsters-of-the-week came to a very Nine Tailors-esque end. :( I wondered if it was an homage.

/pointlessness.
lost_spook
Feb. 5th, 2015 08:30 pm (UTC)
Ah, which one was that? (I still have not ever had a big New Who rewatch; I am forever just restarting my epic Classic Who rewatch, so I forget stuff from New Who, where I know like everything that happened in 1963.) Anyway, DW writers love referencing things, so it could well be. :-)
evelyn_b
Feb. 5th, 2015 08:59 pm (UTC)
"The Lazarus Experiment," S3 episode. . .six or seven? There's an Eternal Life Machine, but it has unfortunate giant-scorpion producing side effects, and Martha's sister and a giant pipe organ help save the day. Of course, it could just be that [Spoiler (click to open)]DEATH BY CHURCH MUSIC is a major recurring theme in English fiction; I'm not well-read enough to tell.

Edited at 2015-02-05 09:00 pm (UTC)
lost_spook
Feb. 5th, 2015 09:01 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes! I... don't think death by church organ is all that common, so it could be a nod to it, yes. :-)
osprey_archer
Feb. 4th, 2015 09:10 pm (UTC)
Yeeeessss more Judith Flanders! I loved Inside the Victorian Home, if you do decide to go the more Flanders route.
evelyn_b
Feb. 4th, 2015 09:56 pm (UTC)
My library has that one! The more Flanders route is inevitable at this point. It's just a question of when.
egelantier
Feb. 5th, 2015 08:03 am (UTC)
five red herrings is just so DULL, and has so much phonetically written accents (never, ever again), and the mystery is boring, and there's nothing more horrible than a scheduling puzzle. i think it was a glitch.
evelyn_b
Feb. 5th, 2015 05:37 pm (UTC)
It's a perfect storm of failure! A boring mystery wouldn't bother me if there were enjoyable characters, and the lack of interesting characters wouldn't be the worst thing ever if the narrative voice was funny or otherwise engaging.

Sayers is normally ok-to-great at those things and bad-to-very bad about phonetic accents and it sort of evens out, for me anyway. But here the phonetic accents have completely taken over and cannibalized the whole show: entire conversations are given over to characters calling attention to each other's pronunciation. Between that and the endless timetable and suspect-roster reviews (also conducted in dialect) it's. . .slow, at best.


Edited at 2015-02-05 05:39 pm (UTC)
ladyherenya
Feb. 7th, 2015 03:57 pm (UTC)
I never finished Five Red Herrings. I don't actually remember anything about it - except maybe something to do with train timetables? and regional accents? - but I have no intention of ever returning to it...
evelyn_b
Feb. 7th, 2015 11:51 pm (UTC)
"something to do with train timetables and regional accents" is all you need to know; there is literally no reason to read this book unless you are compiling a complete set of Wimsey's Stupid Songs Composed During Murder Investigations, and even then you should just flip through until you see italics.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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