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Whither Shall I Flee Wednesday

What I'm Not Reading

I gave up about a third of the way through Marriage Most Scandalous by Johanna Lindsey. I decided to try a "Regency" romance for my next attempt at audiobook listening, since it was going cheap at the library book sale. Mary Sue: Vampire Sex Cop remains my most successful audiobook experiment so far, and I figured this would be at about the same level of "it doesn't really matter if you can't follow it." Plus there is a fake marriage plot, which I always like in theory. The characters in this book are constantly saying "bloody hell," which the author seems to think is a generic Britishism she can sprinkle liberally over the dialogue to bring out the tangy British flavor, rather than a serious profanity in the early 19th century or whenever this is supposed to take place. I gave up after the dude kept threatening his fake bride with sexiness by looming over her and growling. I guess technically these are rape threats, but they're not treated that way by the POV; instead she seems to worry that she will be discombobulated by his marbley torso, or otherwise embarrassed. There's a lot of emphatic but unconvincing physicality (unconvincing because everyone is jewels and minerals, like in a mediocre Elizabethan encomium). This is probably all right if it's your thing, but it turns out not to be mine. Will I try another audiobook in the future? Maybe! It's nice to have something to listen to while I clean, even if it's never going to take the place of non-audio books.

What I've Finished Reading

Once when I was tree, African sun woke me up green at dawn.

African wind combed the branches of my hair. African rain washed my limbs.

Once when I was tree, flesh came and worshipped at my roots.

Flesh came to preserve my voice. Flesh came honoring my limbs.

Now flesh comes with metal teeth, with chopping sticks and fire launchers.

And flesh cuts me down and enslaves my limbs to make forts, ships, pews for other gods.

Now flesh laughs at my charred and beaten frame, discarding me in the mud, burning me up in flames.

Flesh has grown pale and lazy. Flesh has sinned against the fathers.

Now flesh listens no more to the voice of spirits talking through my limbs.

If flesh would listen, I would warn him that the spirits are displeased and are planning what to do with him.

But flesh thinks I am dead, charred and gone.

Flesh thinks that by fire he can kill, thinks that with metal teeth I die.

Thinks that all the voices linked from root to limb are silenced.

Flesh does not know that he does not give me life, nor can he take it away.

That is what the spirits are singing now. It is time that flesh bow down on his knee again.

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet: Book One by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze. This is a comic book, and I don't read a lot of comic books. I read this one because I made a resolution back in 2012 to read everything by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I say that not to wave my hipster paragraph snobbery around like a banner, but as a shamefaced excuse for why I don't understand visual storytelling conventions. Brian Stelfreeze's art is beautiful, the character designs range from "perfectly serviceable" to "stunning," and the writing is often beautiful: TNC has taken this opportunity for poetic monologuing and run with it far and fast. There were times, though, when I had no idea what was going on, especially in action scenes that were meant to be important turning points. And it's not that I'm totally unfamiliar with linear narrative art, but there's a combination of sparse narration + elliptical dialogue + crowded action panels that just isn't intuitive to me. I don't know enough about comic books in general to know for sure whether this is a Stelfreeze/Coates problem or just a gap in my education, but I'm assuming it's the latter for now.

The story: the formerly isolationist techno-theocracy Wakanda has been badly damaged by a series of comic book crises, including an apocalyptic flood and an alien invasion. T'Challa, hereditary superhero-king, has returned (probably from a previous series) to put his kingdom in order - but what if the Wakandans don't want a king? Has the monarchy failed Wakanda, or has T'Challa failed the monarchy? There's only one way to sort this out: MONOLOGUES, and plenty of them!

There is also a sister who may or may not be trapped between the spirit world and the physical, and a pair of revolutionary lovers-turned-supersuit terrorists whose storyline I wished I understood a little better, because I think I would have liked it if I did.

In addition to the main story, this book also includes bonus art, sketches, and a reprint of the first appearance of the Black Panther character in a 1961 Fantastic Four comic (also featuring a brief interlude with the Inhumans and tons of energetic cornball narration from Stan Lee).

What I'm Reading Now

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Donkey Boy begins with Richard "Dickie" Maddison sweeping out his new house -- it's typical of Dickie that he thinks of it as "his" and not "ours" -- new bedrooms, a garden, a modern bathroom (a little spoiled by having to be bucket-flushed before the water gets turned on). He imagines finding a place for his beloved things: dark lantern, butterfly net and specimen cases, the truncheon he used as a volunteer deputy before he was married. He listens to a bird sing as he fills the bucket at the cistern. The reverie is spoiled when he comes home to find his dissolute brother-in-law over for dinner -- Hetty thinks her brother's been suffering from arthritis, but Dickie knows it's syphilis and doesn't want him in the house. He makes a big deal out of washing the dishes in carbolic acid, of not eating until after Hugh has left. Hetty and Hughie's happiness is spoiled by Dickie's return; Dickie's happiness is spoiled by the sight of his wife and her brother being happy together. Us always makes a mockery of I and its ideals; that's Dickie's life in a nutshell. Everything contaminates. What could make him change his mind? Probably nothing. Is he ever going to have more than fleeting moments of solitary peace? Probably not. His son is two, bright and curious, but always confused, and the alienation between father and son is already well underway. Poor everyone.

Maybe I should start putting The Count of Monte Cristo in a separate post? Anyway. . .

[Spoilers through Chapter 23] the Adventures of Cinnamon Roll and MacGyver didn't last very long; Abbe Faria has died tragically inside the prison, beseeching Dantes to go forth and find his SECRET BURIED TREASURE, which he found out about by accidentally burning a piece of paper that was written on in invisible ink. This is very much the kind of book where the treasure COULD turn out to be real and not just "within you all along" or "the treasure of friendship," which is exciting! Their secret tunnel allows Dantes and the Abbe to spend many happy days together, learning about math and philosophy and ensuring that the Abbe's MacGyver skills will live on after his death.

When the abbe dies, Dantes THINKS FAST and hides himself in the burial shroud, so the prison workers will carry him out. For some reason, even thought this is a rocky island prison, he thinks he's going to be tossed into a regular grave, where he'll be able to leap out, stab some guards, and dive into the ocean. But of course they just tie a cannonball to his legs and drop him into the sea; what did you expect? Lucky thing Dantes has that knife with him! He cuts himself free just in time, joins up with a smuggling ship (his seamanship is still A+ after fourteen years in prison), and, in a stroke of luck, the smugglers stop on the very island where the SECRET TREASURE is allegedly hidden! Now he's pretending to have broken his ribs so they'll leave him alone on the island. . .OF MONTE CRISTO! Will Dantes find the treasure? Will he find the Count? Will he find an empty bucket and a mocking note? Will his life become a tragic Treasure of Sierra Madre situation when his crew comes back? Will he break his ribs for real? WE JUST DON'T KNOW.

The Count of Monte Cristo continues to be a MAXIMUM DOSE of MAXIMUM FUN and I can't wait to see where this is going.

What I'm Reading Next

NW, Evelyn Waugh, whatever's next in the stack.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 5th, 2016 07:00 am (UTC)
I love your Monte Cristo reviews. :D Abbé MacGyver! I think we can explain Dantes belief in a semi-decent burial with the fact he is a decent guy.
Oct. 5th, 2016 02:12 pm (UTC)
Aw, poor Dantes. I can believe it!
Oct. 5th, 2016 07:46 am (UTC)
The characters in this book are constantly saying "bloody hell," which the author seems to think is a generic Britishism she can sprinkle liberally over the dialogue to bring out the tangy British flavor, rather than a serious profanity in the early 19th century or whenever this is supposed to take place

All the US Regency authors do this! It's like they think Dukes swearing like Spike out of Buffy is totally convincing and British in all eras. Excuse me while I go and bang my head against the wall. Was the heroine also called Gwendoline? It is amazing how many Regency Gwendolines there are. A couple of them also don't understand how British surnames work, either. And, you know, US people are capable of so much more! Fandom writers can pull off a Georgette Heyer fic without batting an eyelid, so personally I blame some editor in Avon and wherever for sitting there, going, "You should call your heroine Gwendoline, not Mary!" They probably personally add in all the bloody hells and buggers and bollocks and taking the pisses, too. THAT IS HOW WE BRITS SWEAR AND SWORE ETERNALLY. Obv. Just look at Shakespeare.

(I have read too many Regency Romances in the hope that one of them will be Georgette Heyer only modern. And also because I can read them, unlike everything else ever at the moment, except random things like The Count of Monte Cristo. But everyone is so terribly sexy! Sometimes it's very uncomfortable for them. One couple were having terrible problems because she had satanic breasts and he had an evil masculine smell. (It was an Avon book; that Avon editor with the whip in hand who demands more sex, and more 'wicked' sex has a lot to answer for.) But they are not Georgette Heyer, and will never be until they stop worrying about sex all the time and get on with the wit and plot and shenanigans and being sensible in the face of the ridiculous.)

More seriously, if you want something to listen to sometimes but can't follow audiobooks easily, have you considered trying to acquire a few full cast audio adaptations and plays instead? I have never been able to manage to listen to audiobooks (beyond a set of mostly first person short ghost stories read by a favourite actor, which was rather nice), but I get on with full cast audio plays very well and there are some great things out there. BBC Radio have done some wonderful adaptations of books over the years, while there's Big Finish audio, who have done many Doctor Who full cast adventures since about 1999 (and the first fifty are available very cheaply for download on their website, and include some of the best, especially the Eighth's Doctor's first two seasons, which given that you love the TVM for Eight, and would be sure to like Charley might be a thing worth trying). I'm sure the US has some too! Certainly there are many podcasts these days that are full cast audio thingies, but I find them much harder to get hold of & don't know much about them, but everyone else on the net does. Also, they are frequently a good deal shorter than audiobooks, which might also be a help.

This is very much the kind of book where the treasure COULD turn out to be real and not just "within you all along" or "the treasure of friendship," which is exciting!

I can't help but feel that Dumas would regard metaphorical treasure as being nothing but a swindle, lol. :-)

Edited at 2016-10-05 08:01 am (UTC)
Oct. 5th, 2016 02:11 pm (UTC)
Fandom writers can pull off a Georgette Heyer fic without batting an eyelid, so personally I blame some editor in Avon and wherever for sitting there, going, "You should call your heroine Gwendoline, not Mary!" They probably personally add in all the bloody hells and buggers and bollocks and taking the pisses, too.

This must be the root of the problem. I can believe that one author would try to write a historical without having read enough about the time period to notice that swearing attitudes and conventions are different, but not all of them. Leave those manuscripts alone, Avon editors!

Though this one is Margaret, not Gwendoline. Why Gwendoline, I wonder?

Satanic breasts? That sounds uncomfortable :( I hope they don't burn fabric; clothes are expensive in The Past.

Doctor Who audio plays are probably a good idea!
Oct. 5th, 2016 04:13 pm (UTC)
I can believe that one author would try to write a historical without having read enough about the time period to notice that swearing attitudes and conventions are different, but not all of them.


(It's not that I'm bitter. I'm not reading one now where the hero and the heroine say Bloody Hell every other sentence. Oh, wait, I am.)

I don't know if they still do, but I think so - 1-50 of the original DW BFAs are available via the website for £1 or $1 (even though this is not a straight translation of the price). The only thing I would say is that The Sirens of Time (no1) is confusing and not very good despite having 3 Doctors in it (or probably, because it has three Doctors in it), but after that they are mostly excellent and, as I said, given that you would probably want a Doctor you already knew, you can get Eight and his new companion Charley Pollard, plucky Edwardian adventuress extraordinaire. Storm Warning is their first, and it's a fairly nice, solid starting point. (The Chimes of Midnight from their second season is very possibly the best BFA ever even now.)

BBC Radio do some amazing things, though. It is a whole world of media I never knew existed, because I didn't do anything audio until love of DW made me try Big Finish and I realised that actually audio plays were a thing that did work for me.
Oct. 5th, 2016 09:27 am (UTC)
Heehee your review of the Bad Regency RomanceTM made me laugh. Sometimes I feel like reading one of those things myself, just for the lolz.
Oct. 5th, 2016 02:01 pm (UTC)
You should! Or, you know, read a good book instead if you'd rather use your time that way. It was interesting and kind of funny, but unlike Anita Blake, the lolz were not enough to carry me through to the end. I can't really tell if it's just this one author, or if these are established genre conventions (e.g., excessive growling).

(though according to lost_spook above, Anachronistic Swearfests are a persistent problem).
Oct. 5th, 2016 10:34 am (UTC)
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Oct. 5th, 2016 01:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks, LJ robot! I will choose to take this as a compliment, rather than a reflection of the desolation of LJ.
Oct. 5th, 2016 12:38 pm (UTC)
Mary Sue: Vampire Sex Cop

It took me a minute to realize you meant Anita Blake, and this alternate title made me laugh and laugh. I almost want to write my own version of this - do you think it would make money on Amazon? - Mary Sue goes mano a mano with the vampires! Or maybe Mary Sue is a vampire, who is also a cop, and has a lot of sex? Or regulates vampire sex? "No eating your sex partners!" Naturally she has Forbidden Love Affair (tm) with a werewolf.

Fortuitously, we are at exactly the same point in Monte Cristo! POOR ABBE FARIA, his life is so tragic. (Also how did he get his special stroke-fixing elixir into the prison? Somehow I'm not seeing the governor caring if he was all "I have a medical condition and need to have this potion with me at all times. Clearly there were SHENANIGANS.)

Also Dantes! I was impressed by his sneakiness in getting himself left all alone on that island. I think he has to find the treasure eventually, for reasons of using it for VENGEANCE, but probably just when he's decided he'll never find it? Maybe he'll fall into the cave where it's hidden and break his ribs as he falls! That's poetic irony for you.
Oct. 5th, 2016 01:19 pm (UTC)
I am not a good judge of what will make money on Amazon, but I mean, I'd read it? MS:VSC was not very well-written and was full of goofy worldbuilding and plot elements I'd normally shy away from, but I definitely enjoyed its bratty Mary Sue energy and its total shamelessness.

I don't know! Why did they let him keep it? I can only assume that one of the 150 books he memorized was a classic text on Jedi mind tricks psychology the gentlemanly art of manipulation or something, because clearly they would steal his clothes and replace them with prison clothes, right? Chateau d'If is no respecter of doctor's notes.

So sneaky! Poor smuggler crew, so worried about him. I hope you share your haul with the smuggler crew, Dantes (as much as the risk of Sierra Madre trouble worries me). I'm so glad that <3 Dantes <3 lives in a Real Treasure Universe, because he deserves a big pile of literal treasure for all his trouble. It may not bring back his dad, but at least he can buy some nice non-prison clothes and a clean bed and everything, poor guy.
Oct. 5th, 2016 01:38 pm (UTC)

I mean, it's been fourteen years and his dad seemed pretty old, so he might have guessed, but he still doesn't know. OH DANTES, YOUR LIFE IS A TRAGEDY.

We also still have no idea what's happened to Mercedes. Worst case scenario: she married Danglars. Although it would also be pretty bad if she married Fernand.
Oct. 5th, 2016 02:20 pm (UTC)

I almost wish I didn't know his dad was dead. This way we just have to keep anticipating the moment he finds out.

WHY WOULD ANYONE MARRY DANGLARS. At least Mercedes claimed to like Fernand for himself (even though he is THE MOST ANNOYING PERSON), albeit as a friend. Danglars is just forty live rats in a trenchcoat. But I'm still holding out for stony fidelity from poor Mercedes (though I won't blame her if she's moved on, either).
Oct. 5th, 2016 07:43 pm (UTC)
MERCEDES + A NUNNERY! I remain hopeful for this outcome. Although given that she was on the verge of poverty when Dantes was arrested, I'm afraid she might have had to get married for monetary reasons - but maybe she doesn't really love him? In her heart, she still loves her lost Dantes?
Oct. 5th, 2016 07:32 pm (UTC)
do you think it would make money on Amazon?

I feel almost certain this would sell VERY WELL! I mean, Anita Blake herself is bringing in the bestseller bucks, despite being kinda terribly written.
Oct. 5th, 2016 02:37 pm (UTC)
Bloody hell! Sounds like you were right to leave the marbly torsoed rake alone.

If you want something free to listen to while cleaning you could try listening to old Saturday Night Theatre recordings they're about 90 - 120 minutes long and feature many actors familiar to watchers of old British TV.
Oct. 6th, 2016 12:08 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'll give them a try!
Oct. 5th, 2016 07:33 pm (UTC)
I love your Count of Monte Cristo reviews! I'm jealous of your ability to read it without previously knowing all the twists and turns.
Oct. 6th, 2016 12:46 am (UTC)
I was lucky in that the book I got from the library has no information at all about what happens - no introduction, no back-cover copy, just one of those pseudo-fancy hardcovers with a decorative binding.

So far I've been spoiled for the fact that eventually there will be revenge (just by comments people have made), but otherwise, it's been a rollercoaster in the dark. The best kind of rollercoaster? I don't know, but I'm enjoying it a lot.
Oct. 5th, 2016 09:03 pm (UTC)
There are some books out there that were never meant to BE books...oi.

Oct. 6th, 2016 12:51 am (UTC)
Poor Sir Bloody-Hell is just trying to get by in a world that doesn't understand his sweary needs. The marble life is a hard life for everyone.
Oct. 5th, 2016 11:14 pm (UTC)
It's agonisingly hard not to spoil you about Monte Cristo!
Oct. 6th, 2016 12:54 am (UTC)
Thank you for your restraint! I'm hoping for the best.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )


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