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I guess we're back down to one post a week, since work shows no signs of slowing down and I can't seem to manage my time any better. Oh well.

What I've Just Finished Reading

The Singing Sands was great, and if anything To Love and Be Wise was even better. At least, most of the grouchiness that in other books gets channeled into regional politics is shifted onto the vast wasteland of contemporary fiction, where it is no less over the top but significantly more enjoyable. There's a habit Grant and his friends have of latching onto a single phrase and driving it into the ground -- here it's the banal observation by one of the policemen that a murder suspect (thought to have pushed a charming stranger into the river) seems like "more of a push-ee" than a pusher. Grant and Marta repeat the word "pushee" over a dozen times and make it the key to the suspect's character, in a very persistent, fixed way that is typical of Tey. The solution to the mystery, and Grant's response to it, was unexpectedly and refreshingly generous, one of the gentlest endings I've seen to anything that started out as a murder mystery -- though maybe the perpetrator's good looks had something to do with that.

Also read The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkley and started The Innocence of Father Brown. All of this should have gone into a Murder Monday post, but it's not Monday anymore and it won't be Monday again for days

After Many A Summer had Shocking Plot Twists! and a Grimly Funny Satirical Ending! both of which fell a little flat for me. The descriptions of Jo Stoyte's house and the Beverly Pantheon pulled more weight, satirically and otherwise, than all the long philosophical discussions OR the soap opera or the immortality plot. I didn't regret having read it, but I wasn't overwhelmed with gratitude for the recommendation, either.

What I'm Reading Now

Finnegans Wake! I'm only on Page 12, it makes almost no sense, and I love it already. I'm going to follow the example of Stephen Crowe and make a sketch for every page I read (mine will not be good sketches, but that can't be helped). This should help me keep from getting too lost and keep me from skimming when I'm tempted to skim.

The Silmarillion is brewing secret cities and secret drama all over the place. Galadriel is staying with Melian, who keeps trying to get her to talk about the thing she doesn't want to talk about. The fact is, her cousin Feanor and her brothers killed Melian's in-laws and stole their ships, and it's not the easiest thing to talk about even without the embarrassment of being a guest in the house of the bereaved. Poor Galadriel. She has such an unimaginably long life ahead of her, and she's already dug a trench between the things she can bear to remember and the things she can't.

Also started: the aforementioned Innocence of Father Brown. It's SUPER PREACHY and very charming and full of clever turns of phrase and Evil Atheists. One Evil Atheist turned out to have killed a millionaire because the latter might have been about to convert to Catholicism and give his millions to a bunch of reactionary organizations! While I understand this concern, I can only advise my fellow evil atheists to be more circumspect in their future propaganda efforts. :(

Father Brown himself is my favorite type of detective, the False Innocent. Like Miss Marple, everyone automatically tries to protect him from any hint of the nastier side of life despite his being the least squeamish and most clear-sighted person in any given room. The best story so far is the first one, in which he allows a jewel thief to attempt to con him in order to identify him and set a trail for the authorities. Flambeau, the jewel thief, has turned up again, and I hope he becomes a regular semi-nemesis; he's not a very complex character so far, but he has a lot of potential. Actually, I wouldn't mind if the whole book turned out to be The Adventures of Flambeau, The World's Greatest and Most Theatrically-Minded Criminal, with occassional appearances by Father Brown.

What I plan to read next

At Swim-Two-Birds is next on the 99 Novels list, and if I start it soonish I'll probably finish it before I get through Finnegans Wake. Other than that, I'm not sure yet! I have to do some re-reading for a paper I might be working on, but I don't know yet how I'm going to pace that.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
lost_spook
Apr. 2nd, 2015 12:35 pm (UTC)
Father Brown himself is my favorite type of detective, the False Innocent. Like Miss Marple, everyone automatically tries to protect him from any hint of the nastier side of life despite his being the least squeamish and most clear-sighted person in any given room.

I'd rather hoped you might like him for that! :-)

And the story I remember most clearly is that one with Flambeau, although I may actually be merging it with another, I think.

I'm glad to hear Grant can sometimes err on the kinder side of obsession.
evelyn_b
Apr. 3rd, 2015 04:03 am (UTC)
You seem to have my number :D Also, Flambeau retired from crime to become a private detective! I love the idea of this character so much that I wish he would hurry up and get a little more rounded. The Innocence of Father Brown is linked short stories rather than a novel, which seems to be stunting the character development a little.

Grant is so difficult! He's one of the few detectives on my detective roster who have something (to me) genuinely repellent about them -- as opposed to simply having foibles (I'm not going to count that rage-fueled rando from The Franchise Affair as part of the roster as he is an outlier and should not be counted) -- and he's also (consequently?) one of the easiest for me to sympathize with.

I haven't really sorted out how I feel about him yet and since it takes me approximately 900 years to sort out how I feel about fictional characters if it takes me any time at all, I don't know that I can say any more than that. But it is interesting that Tey wrote both the most gratuitously vindictive mystery I've read so far and this one, which is seasoned with all of the usual digs at The Wrong Sort of People but is ultimately one of the most forgiving. I don't know what it means.
lost_spook
Apr. 3rd, 2015 08:21 am (UTC)
I'm afraid all the Father Brown books are collections of short stories - he doesn't have any novels. I seem to recall the others are rather less linked, although I'm not sure. It's been a while & they tend to merge together. I remember Flambeau and his becoming a detective particularly. :-)

I don't know what it means.

Somebody with dark blue eyes once did something TERRIBLE to her??
evelyn_b
Apr. 4th, 2015 06:52 am (UTC)

Somebody with dark blue eyes once did something TERRIBLE to her??


Well, that goes almost without saying! :\ Maybe she learned the hard way how important it was to Face Detect.


all the Father Brown books are collections of short stories

Well, that's all right! I don't know if I like the short story format as well for mysteries -- but hopefully we'll get some character development anyway. There's so much potential for it!

egelantier
Apr. 3rd, 2015 02:54 pm (UTC)
i love that galadriel is pretty much the only from-valinor elf who's gotten everything she wanted - independence, her own kingdom, her chance to be a mover and a shaker - but oh, the cost.

and i always thought that the way she basically matchmaked aragorn and arwen and supported aragorn all the way was very, very personal; [sorry, i don't remember if you're reading or rereading silm]her own chance to spit into sauron's eye for finrod's life and beren's quest.
evelyn_b
Apr. 3rd, 2015 03:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, that is an interesting thing I'd never thought of! (I've read parts of the Silmarillion but not all of it -- you don't have to worry too much about spoilers).
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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