Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

What I've Finished Reading

I finished Foundation on the plane and then tried to figure out what makes its appeal so strong for me. It's partly Asimov's writing, which is amiable and transparent and makes everyone in the far future sound like Hollywood Romans or company engineers of the 1950s (except that they all swear By Space!) so it's a peculiarly comfortable way to tour thousands of years of made-up history. And the structure is undemanding - it's really five novellas or long short stories bound together, with large gaps in time between each one. There are lots of neat set-pieces and episodes of skulduggery and some pleasant rib-nudging allusions to RL history. It's thought-provoking without being at all challenging or painful.

There's also Trantor, the beautiful/horrible subterranean city planet, where children go up to the observation deck once a year for school field trips and cry in fear of the open sky. But as large as it looms in my heart, Trantor is only seen in passing in Foundation. The impossible scale of things in general (the Galactic Empire lasted for twelve thousand years! Encompassing twenty-seven million planets!) sort of lifts it out of the realm of "speculation one might question" and into a different one - fantasy or fable, maybe? - in which the reader's inability to picture the administrative nightmare of day-to-day life in the Galactic Empire is part of the point. But it also doesn't poke too hard at that difficulty. I don't know! I like this book in a very specific way: I only want to read it when I have a long ride ahead of me. But when I do, it's the best thing.

What I'm Reading Now

A Buyer's Market by Anthony Powell:

While I undressed I reflected on the difficulty of believing in the existence of certain human beings, my uncle among them, even in the face of unquestionable evidence-- indications sometimes even wanting in the case of persons for some reason more substantial to the mind -- that each had dreams and desires like other men. Was it possible to take Uncle Giles seriously? And yet he was, no doubt, serious enough to himself. If a clue to that problem could be found, other mysteries of life might be revealed.

I didn't manage to finish A Buyer's Market before I left town, but I am enjoying it pretty well.

I took a diminutive 99 Novels selection with me instead: JUSTINE by LAWRENCE DURRELL. This book will always be in all caps in my heart, but maybe for different reasons each time. I was so annoyed with Lawrence Durrell in the first few pages, but then I adjusted to the style and now I'm ok. There will be more about this book later, whether you want to hear it or not.

In the meantime, I've come down with something that makes my throat close up and my ears ring. This may be the perfect state in which to read Justine, but it is not great for the rest of the things I was planning to do this week.

What I Plan to Read Next

I'm saving Foundation and Empire to read on the way back.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2016 09:01 am (UTC)
I like this book in a very specific way: I only want to read it when I have a long ride ahead of me. But when I do, it's the best thing.

Aww. And why not? (I always take Heyer on train rides.)
Jun. 30th, 2016 04:23 am (UTC)
It's nice to have books that are always fresh for a long trip! Foundation hasn't let me down so far.
Jun. 29th, 2016 02:19 pm (UTC)
Read Foundation a long time ago, it was a hard read, but a good one. :D

Jun. 30th, 2016 04:26 am (UTC)
I haven't read a lot of Asimov otherwise, but it's a long-term favorite!

Hope things are looking up!
Jun. 29th, 2016 03:27 pm (UTC)
I hope your book reading can see off bugs.

Hmm, I might like Asimov if he writes clearly and he has been recced to me.

I am interesting in reading your views on 'Justine' after watching the hard hitting series 'The Durrels' on TV earlier this year.
Jun. 30th, 2016 04:41 am (UTC)
I hope so, too! My head seems to have cleared up a little but my throat is still a mess, so I'm worried I'll need antibiotics before it goes away :(

Hard-hitting, eh? I think I was vaguely aware of this next generation of Durrells, but not very. When/if/insofar as I have thoughts, they will be posted.

Asimov is a very clear writer; he's got that tv-show transparency (which is really a classic mid-twentieth century sci-fi writing style). His far future is casually old-school about women ("scientists and their wives and children") if that's something you mind. But definitely worth giving Foundation a try, if you think you might like amiably machiavellian large-scale future histories.
Jun. 30th, 2016 03:38 pm (UTC)
Oh dear:( I had tonsillitis many times when I was younger so you have my sympathies.

Hee, I was having ze little joke; 'The Durrels' is Sunday night TV fluff. Lawrence in the show kept telling his Mum that she should get a bloke and have lots of sex with him as that would solve all her problems, so I'm interested to see how that matches up with his writing.

My tolerance of old school views does fluctuate, but as I said to someone recently I get plenty of them in my old TV watching at the moment.
Jul. 1st, 2016 05:13 am (UTC)
Aha, ok! Well, Justine is all about people having lots of sex in the sad heat of Alexandria. It does not solve their problems but it does make them sweaty, philosophical, hot and sad.

I'm hoping it's just a bad cold and will go away eventually, but may have to go to a doctor to find out. :(
Jul. 1st, 2016 02:39 pm (UTC)
That's Lawrence's story arc for series 2 sorted;)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

Latest Month

August 2017


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner