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Wednesday Wild and Wasted Dreams

What I've Finished Reading

The Dark Lantern by Henry Williamson.

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

That's what was running through my head for the entire second half of The Dark Lantern Hetty and Dickie are as young and unprepared as anyone ever was, despite the copy of What A Young Mother Needs to Know Hetty keeps by her pillow. Their youth makes them hopeful and attractive, but their misunderstandings are rapidly ossifying. They married in the assurance that obviously their love would overcome all the minor offenses they constantly cause each other, only to learn that these trivialities make up the bulk of every day and 99% of the year. Every now and then, there's a picnic, or the aurora borealis is visible, and life is beautiful for an hour. The rest of the time is plagued by the nagging conviction that it ought to be.

I was surprised by how much I loved this weird, difficult, earnest, prickly pedant of a book. Anthony Burgess knows what he's about. Or maybe "loved" is the wrong word again; I cared about Hetty and Dickie and what messes their different family backgrounds have made of them and what a mess they're going to make of being parents themselves. And the nature descriptions really are excellent, even if Dickie is enough of a prig to be outraged at the prospect of his Hill being designated a "recreational area" (this phrase is treated as dismaying for reasons that are totally lost on me). But with Dickie the priggishness and the wonderful attention to the physical world can't be separated; to him it's all connected, however absurdly random the resulting prejudices seem to Hetty and others.

Toward the end, while Hetty is in labor, Dickie finds his estranged (now dead) father's journals and discovers in them a kindred spirit heretofore unguessed. The source of the kinship is "angry rants about the alienation of everyone other than himself from True Values and The Soil." Surprise! At the very end, his marriage to Hetty seems to have settled into a kind of benevolent truce, though it's mainly because he's fortifying himself with pseudo-chivalric spiritual longing for his sister-in-law. Oh, Dickie. :(

Also in 99 Novels: Invisible Man. We're up to 1952! I started this on Friday evening, thinking I would just read a chapter or two and then get some work done, but hahahahahahaNOPE. Some books come into our lives to be half-read, and some to completely usurp our plans for the next twelve hours. Guess which kind this is? It's a gorgeous nightmare, twentieth-century America as painted by Hieronymus Bosch, and I couldn't put it down even when I wanted to.

What I'm Reading Now

I'm about halfway through The Fifth Elephant and regretting, for no really clear reason, that I've abandoned publication order; I might double back and read the previous book, Jingo, before I finish. Vimes has been sent on a diplomatic mission to Comedy Transylvania, Gaspode the talking dog tries to help Carrot with his relationship problems, and Sgt. Colon has been temporarily promoted, to the detriment of everyone and everything.

Foundation's Edge is surprisingly good! Well, it's Asimovian, and Asimov is pretty unfailing comfort food for me, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. For some reason, I can suspend my disbelief about a galaxy-wide empire lasting twelve thousand years – I mean, my sense of scale is not too robust at the best of times – but not about space archaeologists who think it's weird for a planet to have more than two languages. Come on!

What I Plan to Read Next

Probably taking a break from the 99 for a week, but with what? More Asimov? BALZAC? Books published within the past ten years? And then it's time to read The Groves of Academe and The Old Man and the Sea!


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2016 07:29 pm (UTC)
Invisible Man! I read that in school and really enjoyed it, though it's been so long that I should read it again.
Aug. 31st, 2016 07:41 pm (UTC)
If you haven't read it since school, you should definitely pick it back up! Make sure you have some spare time lined up, though. No waking up till it's over! The nightmare needs you!
Aug. 31st, 2016 11:59 pm (UTC)
Sep. 1st, 2016 02:25 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, I hope this doesn't mean you've fallen out with TP:S
Sep. 1st, 2016 03:21 pm (UTC)
Terry Pratchett? No, I don't think I could fall out with Pratchett at this point! I'm just reconsidering my choice to read the books slightly out of order because now I have a vague fear that I'm missing something. It's not the fault of The Fifth Elephant; it's just me.

TP could write like fifty terrible books and he'd still be the guy who brought me Sam Vimes and Death's Adventures in Job Hunting. The chances of any hard feelings developing are minimal to nonexistent. (And TFE is not bad at all; I'm just getting distracted for various reasons).
Sep. 2nd, 2016 12:39 pm (UTC)
\o/ I thought the move to horror might be putting you off, phew!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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