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Wednesday Reading Meme -- on Thursday?

What I've Just Finished Reading

P. D. James' The Skull Beneath the Skin, which is probably the best-ever title for a murder mystery (if it's not Died in the Wool) and a good book, though it's a sign of how far down the genre rabbit hole I've gone in the past few months that I sometimes felt it was a little too "literary." It's very slow and sad, and deliberately resists being satisfying in the way puzzle books are satisfying. Maybe I admired it a little more than I liked it? But I liked it most of the way through and I'm not ultimately sure how much I admired it. P. D. James is an extremely interesting writer, but I'm still on the fence about whether I want to read all her books or not.

What I'm Not Reading Anymore

I am officially giving up on A Distant Trumpet for now. I just couldn't face another 400 pages of being bored out of my mind. I don't know what it is about this book that made it so difficult to care about anyone or anything that was happening, but it was time for me to move on. This is goodbye for now, but not forever: I'll pick it up again in a month or so and see if I can get any further.

What I'm Reading Now

Woman in Red by Eileen Goudge is next up in the Water Damage Club. I haven't gotten very far and I'm having a little trouble paying attention, but it's not quite as brain-destroying as A Distant Trumpet was. There's a drunk-driving hit and run, and everyone's going to have to pick up the pieces. But I don't yet have a good sense of who "everyone" is; the narration hasn't let me get too close to the characters. I'm only on Chapter One though, so we'll see.

Also: Party Going by Henry Green! I think it's good. I'm not completely sure what to say about it yet. But I like Henry Green's sentence structure a lot even if I can't always completely tell his characters apart. I'll have more to say when I've finished it, I think.

What I Plan to Read Next

My Josephine Tey books still haven't arrived at the library. I'm not going to give in and buy them! But I wish they would hurry up and get here. I need to know whether my eye color is giving away my essential untrustworthiness! Plus, I was promised angst. Where is my angst??

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
lost_spook
Mar. 6th, 2015 05:15 pm (UTC)
People are obviously just trying to protect you from Josephine Tey! or perhaps they have blue eyes? Did you check carefully when you ordered the books?

Stopping with the one you're not enjoying sounds v v sane - well done! 400 pages is a long way to go when somebody can't make you care.
evelyn_b
Mar. 6th, 2015 07:27 pm (UTC)
I just got The Franchise Affair! And. . . oops, I feel like I might have been spoiled a little by knowing that EYE COLOR was going to turn out to be a significant detail. We'll see!

It's harder to practice Face ESP these days due to the availability of color contacts. They make it easy to hide the telltale signs of Lying Nymphomania.
lost_spook
Mar. 6th, 2015 07:51 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry about that! But, you see, I have dark blue eyes and in addition to my lying and nymphomania, I am also an incurable spoiler of detective novels. It's a terrible thing that would never happen otherwise.

Do you think wearing coloured contacts alters your behaviour?
evelyn_b
Mar. 6th, 2015 08:30 pm (UTC)
OMG I just got to the first bit where they talk about EYE COLOR and it is amazing let me share:

“No. I am not very feminine and I have no intuition. But I have never known anyone – man or woman – with that color of eye who wasn't. That opaque dark blue, like a very faded navy – it's infallible.”

[cut to Robert feeling skeptical, then mentally reviewing the sex fiends he has known and OMG WOW THEY ALL HAD BLUE EYES COULD IT BE TRUE D: D:]

And then this magical paragraph:

“It is fascinating to speculate on what she really did during that month,” Marion said. “It affords me intense satisfaction that someone beat her black and blue. At least there is one person in this world who has arrived at a correct estimate of her. I hope I meet him someday, so that I may shake his hand.”

WHAT IS THIS BOOK.

I guess in a world where eye color and behavior were actually linked, there would be a school of therapy that had you use color contacts to "practice" inhabiting other patterns of behavior. So my therapist would give me brown contacts and encourage me to think of myself as a brown-eyed person. That way, every time I looked in the mirror I would reinforce the idea that I could be a truthful person with a normal sex drive. It would also change the way other people responded to me -- in a world where dark blue eyes = nympho was an accepted fact, young teenagers and even children with that eye color would be treated differently by adults and peers from a young age. To some extent it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy: blue-eyed kids would experience more sexualization and sexual pressure in all directions, and if they're known to be liars, too. . . well, this is turning into a bit too much of a nightmare scenario for me; I'd better just leave it at that.

Anyway, the criminal science people would try to de-fund the contact therapy people because it "interferes with investigations," and there would be long articles wringing hands over whether contact therapy was a pipe dream and/or its frightening consequences for our entire concept of the self; there would be thuddingly earnest TV movies asking the question "Is eye color truly destiny?" with the answer "Yes, but it's REALLY TRAGIC in this one case!" Lars von Trier would make a three-part silent film about a woman whose eye color is changed due to a life-saving operation and as a result develops an insatiable appetite for increasingly degrading sexual tableaux. This comment has officially gotten too long.

But seriously. Seriously, though.

p.s. this is also my eye color so none of this is true.
lost_spook
Mar. 7th, 2015 05:55 pm (UTC)
Ha, I will reply properly, but yes, indeed, and these are the reasons I have to keep this book because otherwise I will think I exaggerated. (And, yep, I thought it was my eye colour. *fist bumps over shared evil eye colour*)
lost_spook
Mar. 8th, 2015 08:27 am (UTC)
in a world where dark blue eyes = nympho was an accepted fact, young teenagers and even children with that eye color would be treated differently by adults and peers from a young age. To some extent it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy: blue-eyed kids would experience more sexualization and sexual pressure in all directions, and if they're known to be liars, too. . .

*nods* It would actually be kind of an interesting dystopia. To write about, obv. People with our eye colour would not want to live there! I love your detailed thoughts about it (this comment is not too long, no), and, yes, I mean if everything is so very dictated to by things like eye-colour, then changing that eye colour has to be also significant, logically. If the word logic even applies here. It's also scary, because it shows how random these sorts of things are, because it's hardly any distance away from the very real prejudice shown to people merely because of skin colour & also the horrible pseudo-science that goes with that. If brown-eyed people had got significantly more power at some point, this could happen too. People will do prejudice over everything and anything, given some sort of excuse. :-/

“No. I am not very feminine and I have no intuition. But I have never known anyone – man or woman – with that color of eye who wasn't. That opaque dark blue, like a very faded navy – it's infallible.”

I treasure this book for always for stuff like this...
evelyn_b
Mar. 8th, 2015 05:10 pm (UTC)
*evil eye fistbump*

I want to read The Singing Sands because I was promised a Detective Angstfest, but something about the way Blair and his friends (and also Grant and his friends in The Daughter of Time) are extremely stingy with their sympathy is unattractive to me.

Here it's not just "seen clearly, the victim was a manipulative liar and unpleasant person" but "the victim was manipulative and unpleasant, and therefore can't have been a victim of anything." Which does not follow AT ALL and feels like it's breaking some kind of narrative rule (but not in a way that I like).

I mean, this girl turns up covered in lies and bruises, and not only is no one on Team Sharpe concerned about the bruises, they gloat about them. Even if they prove conclusively that every word out of her mouth is a lie and she is the worst human being on the planet, there's no coming back from that. I think I would have liked a story about a cold, manipulative teenager who almost succeeds in ruining two strangers' lives, but not the way it was framed here.

Edited at 2015-03-08 05:12 pm (UTC)
lost_spook
Mar. 8th, 2015 06:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, the concept of The Franchise Affair is really different and fascinating, and Tey is a good writer technically, but the attitude is really repellent. It's a shame, to say the least.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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