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Wednesday Useless Placeholder

I've gotten way, way behind on posting, and basically everything else, so here's an update so I can pretend I'm not as far behind as I am.

What have I been reading?

* A ton of essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald, a perennial source of comfort reading for some reason.

* After Many A Summer, US title After Many A Summer Dies the Swan, really engaging in a quiet way, some too-obvious satire that probably felt more startling in 1939, but also a lot of observations that feel specific and genuinely fresh, also in an edition that is literally falling apart as some kind of meta-commentary on its hapless millionaire's obsession with immortality. Like, every time I turn a page, another page falls out. It's kind of beautiful.

* Vintage Murder by Ngaio Marsh, which takes place in New Zealand, has a Maori doctor as a major supporting character, and was a pretty fun mystery in the "complicated death-machine" tradition as well as a perpetual rollercoaster of Is This Going To Turn Really Racist Or Not. Sometimes it does, sometimes it walks it back, sometimes Inspector Alleyn and the doctor (an "upper-caste" Maori, as everyone is constantly falling over themselves to remind us) get to bond over the comforting persistence of hierarchical social structures in their respective cultures. Golden Age Mystery, why do I even bother to love you if you're just going to be like this all the time? I think that may be The True Mystery here.

Also in Vintage Murder: loads of great New Zealand landscape description! Finally! I wish all of Marsh's books were set in New Zealand. The New Zealand setting is so intense and vivid compared to Generic Golden Age London And Environs, and Alleyn's instant pained love for the mountains and clear air is by far the most endearing thing about him, at least until we get to Artists in Crime and his unexpectedly spectacular bout of Agatha Troy-induced awkwardness.

* The Silmarillion: The Valar finally figured out the "sun and moon" thing (creating a world is hard, ok?) mortals are turning up all over the place and confusing the hell out of the Eldar, and FEANOR DIES (and immediately burns up his own body because his spirit was just that intense) plus Elrond gets a name-drop; I'll write an actual post on Sunday, I hope.

* probably something else I'm forgetting

* I wanted more Josephine Tey to be on this list, but the library has been silent on my inter-library loans, so I may have to fall back on the university library (which means reading at the library). I sat down and read the first chapter of The Singing Sands this afternoon, and it's amazing, of course -- I am delighted to learn that in addition to Face ESP, Inspector Grant has also made a study of handwriting analysis.

I think things will have calmed down in RL enough to start posting again on Sunday. We'll see.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
osprey_archer
Mar. 19th, 2015 02:31 am (UTC)
to bond over the comforting persistence of hierarchical social structures in their respective cultures.

I am not sure why this strikes me as ruefully hilarious, but it does. It's just so Golden Age mystery. "Despite our difference of race and creed, let us bond over the common nature of all humanity, as evidenced by the charming if occasionally annoying existence of the upper classes!"

I don't believe I've read Vintage Murder, and clearly I ought to. Marsh always does an excellent job with the New Zealand setting.
evelyn_b
Mar. 20th, 2015 02:07 pm (UTC)
"Ruefully hilarious" is exactly right! It's like the quintessence of Golden Age mystery! Or one of them, anyway. Being of The Right Sort transcends color, but unfortunately only The Right Sort can see it: a not entirely satisfactory form of anti-racism, on the whole.

You really ought! It's top-shelf Marsh: loads of theatrical company insider gossip and shop talk, a Needlessly Complicated Death Machine, plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle snobbery, and everyone's secrets coming apart at the seams as usual, with all the scheming and squabbling set in contrast to the beautifully specific and unsettlingly beautiful mountain landscape.

lost_spook
Mar. 19th, 2015 02:27 pm (UTC)
I am delighted to learn that in addition to Face ESP, Inspector Grant has also made a study of handwriting analysis.

He's like a magic detective. :-)

Golden Age Mystery, why do I even bother to love you if you're just going to be like this all the time? I think that may be The True Mystery here.

because there is also something about slightly upper/middle class people getting together in nice settings and then, shockingly, murder happens, and yes, it was one of them (unless it's a particularly bad case), and it's sort of cosy and charming, even when it's not. Yes, they're often snobs or worse, but they are culling themselves nicely? Or not. Maybe.
evelyn_b
Mar. 20th, 2015 03:20 pm (UTC)
but they are culling themselves nicely?

Hah. That's one way of looking at it.

Handwriting analysis is par for the course, on its own. Grant's need to stare into dead people's faces and feel his way into their souls is so weirdly touching, though. Like he's convinced that once he unlocks the cipher of this dead man's features he'll know him and then he'll understand. . . something. Everything? Something important, anyway. As though he were living in a book where every detail has more than one meaning -- which he is, of course.

Edited at 2015-03-20 03:20 pm (UTC)
ramasi
Mar. 27th, 2015 09:16 pm (UTC)
The Valar finally figured out the "sun and moon" thing (creating a world is hard, ok?)
I don't know, it felt very much like a poor alternative; now two people have to be employed full-time for this!
evelyn_b
Apr. 28th, 2015 01:49 am (UTC)
True, it causes labor problems! But at least the sun and moon are (or ought to be) well out of reach of giant spider attacks.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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