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Some Varieties of War Wednesday

What I've Just Finished Reading

The Man Who Was Thursday is a lot of weird fun, and Chesterton mostly manages to keep himself to one drive-by racist/xenophobic/anti-Semitic remark per chapter, and there's even an in-story justification for his anarchists being caricatures, which is awfully clever of him. I got a little too annoyed with Chesterton for inventing Father Brown, a completely delightful character, and giving him absolutely nothing to do but toddle around dispensing Chestertonian epigrams. Thursday does a little better. Its characters are all "types" from the start, so there is no regretting what might have been, and it's funny and dreamlike and shows off Chesterton's (sometimes) impeccable ear for nonsense. Whatever philosophical-theological conundrum the book was going for, I don't get it, but that can't be helped.

What I'm Reading Now

My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson is still excellent. Emily's father's school in Amherst is failing (again) and Emily has gone away to Mount Holyoke. Unfortunately, at this time (c. 1847) it's still Revival Season in New England, and Mount Holyoke's number-one priority is getting its students "converted," which means that Emily and her fellow "non-Christians" (i.e., anyone who hasn't made a formal declaration of their assurance of salvation) are being constantly harrassed by teachers, friends, roommates, and everyone else who can get a word in edgewise about the necessity of having hope. It's so distressing. She's just decided to give it up and go home, where at least her father is "unsaved" along with her. The school's leaders are upset because they've got the "no hope" list down to about 25, and it isn't getting any smaller, no matter how much they step up the harrassment. It's fascinating, but I just feel bad for everyone involved.

The Horse's Mouth might be a little too long, but I'm still enjoying it. Gulley Jimson is an Artist Behaving Badly, and a particularly pungent example. He's so childish and selfish and so inept at basic life skills that I thought he was in his twenties at first, and was jolted when he's revealed to be sixty-seven years old. Well, why should age do anything for him, if he never bothered to get it together when he was young? He's not a Beautiful Tortured Genuis Too Pure to Live, just a socially incompetent jackass who never bothered to learn any better, who has only his art to recommend him, and he's shafted himself out of even being able to buy paint without resorting to shoplifting. He befriends people who can't help him and alienates people who can, not because he's a good unselfish soul, but just because self-sabotage is like a reflex to him. And his painting sounds terrible, but maybe it isn't. I don't know if all this is going anywhere, but I'm enjoying the ride.

What I'm Going to Read Next

Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman! I really like this book, or at least, I like its troubled and hapless narrator, Bunny Manders. But I've had to give up completely on trying to read anything on Project Gutenberg; it just doesn't work. I got this one and Thursday from the library at long last, after months of trying and failing to get through them on Gutenberg, and will probably finish it up in a few days.

Also somewhere in the future: The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards, Inda by Sherwood Smith, and The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

Comments

evelyn_b
Aug. 27th, 2015 02:07 pm (UTC)
I don't know if being in a better brain place will help, tbh. It's a dreamlike sequence of events with a(n I think famously) WTF ending. A costume ball is involved, and possibly the creation of the world? But if you do re-read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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