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Where Are the Snows of Yesterwednesday

What I've Finished Reading

I've been trying to get on top of some "real" work (the kind I need to get paid) and assorted other things, so it's useless placeholder season again.

In a way this book is a sequel to the friendship which there was between Wilson, Bowers and myself, which, having stood the strain of the Winter Journey, could never have been broken. Between the three of us we had a share in all the big journeys and bad times which came to Scott's main landing party, and what follows is, particularly, our unpublished diaries, letters and illustrations. I, we, have tried to show how good the whole thing was—and how bad.

The Worst Journey in the World - more guys, more ice.

Also The Hunger Games, sad teenage gladiators win the day, sort of, precariously and at a terrible price.

Both were good, or at least I enjoyed reading them. I also read a couple other books about the Race for the Pole which maybe I'll get to eventually. Everyone has an opinion about Robert Falcon Scott!

What I'm Reading Now

I need to say more about The Hunger Games and also Catching Fire, which I began yesterday, but I'm too tired. Also Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay.

What I Plan to Read Next

Now for something completely different: The Cruelest Miles is the story of a (dogsled) race against time to get crucial medicine to Nome, Alaska during a winter diphtheria outbreak in 1925. In the opposite direction from Antarctica! Next week will be better, maybe, at least as far as reading goes. Maybe.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2017 03:51 pm (UTC)
Scott he was bad then he was good or is it the other way round?

I hope Alaska matches up to Antarctica in the ice stakes.
Feb. 1st, 2017 05:08 pm (UTC)
Scott's just a mess. Not even unusually a mess, that's the fascinating thing. As far as I can tell he's just a guy with a lot of very ordinary flaws, only in the middle of Antarctica. He made a lot of mistakes (I've had that Sufjan Stevens song running through my head all week) and didn't or couldn't make up for it in the end.

But yes! Roland Huntford wrote a book about how Amundsen was the best and Scott was THE WORST LEADER and possibly THE WORST HUMAN EVER, which was frustrating, not because I don't want to believe anything bad about anyone who ever died on the ice, but because it was so overdone, and occasionally petty, that I became reactively more sympathetic to Scott than I was by the end of The Worst Journey. Huntford is always doing things like tacking "Scott wrote sneeringly," onto diary entries etc. about which there's nothing obviously sneering at all, a huge pet peeve of mine.

Then I read The Coldest March, by a Scott defender who had obviously read the same book (The Last Place on Earth, though she never actually names it or Huntford for some reason) and had the same feeling about it as I did. It offers a reevaluation of conditions and Scott's choices that is sometimes convincing (high probability of dehydration, and apparently the weather really was unusually bad) and sometimes not.
Feb. 2nd, 2017 03:50 pm (UTC)
Scott the new Richard III! I think when writers over egg the worst person ever, ever aspects they are asking for revisionists to go completely the opposite way.
Feb. 1st, 2017 05:21 pm (UTC)
You are definitely stuck on the ice now. Is there any escape???
Feb. 1st, 2017 11:50 pm (UTC)
Maybe? Never?? It's hard to tell. Eventually I'll run out of the books I brought home from the library AND the books I salvaged from the "Polar Adventure" section of the used bookstore and then someone will distract me with something temperate. . . I did make a game attempt to read Courtney Milan or Georgette Heyer this week but neither library had any of them so I was left to my frosty destiny.
Feb. 1st, 2017 08:39 pm (UTC)
It's Balto! One of my favorite childhood movies was a cartoon staring Balto the sled dog, as he raced through a blizzard to get medicine to the sick kids. I'm not sure I understood what diphtheria was at the time, or if the movie would be worth watching today, since I haven't seen it in 20 years, but I have very fond memories of that story.
Feb. 1st, 2017 11:54 pm (UTC)
DIPHTHERIA IS HORRIBLE. That's the main upshot from this book so far. I'm glad there was a lovable cartoon dog movie, though! Maybe I'll watch it when I finish the book!

Edited at 2017-02-01 11:54 pm (UTC)
Feb. 10th, 2017 03:25 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure the movie spared all details of diphtheria and just had the kids be ambiguously 'sick', so at least it would be a different experience from the book!
Feb. 2nd, 2017 12:04 am (UTC)
I finished The Hunger Games today! I meant to write letters but I unwisely sat down to read while my scones were baking and... then I just continued reading as I ate my scones. I had to see what happened next! Even though I totally knew what happened next because I saw a third of the movie that one time!

I may be the only person in the world who is a little disappointed that Peeta's crush was not, in fact, 100% fabricated strategy for the games. (It could become real in the arena regardless! I'm not a monster, I don't want to take anyone's hurt/comfortfull ship away from them. All that near death cuddling in the caves!)

But overall, even though I have some quibbles about the world-building, emotionally it's super effective, and I really liked in particular the claustrophobic sense of being watched all the time. Not only is Katniss in Mortal Peril, but she has to react to it in a way that will make the audience like her and root for her. Simply collapsing into a puddle and weeping is not an option.
Feb. 2nd, 2017 04:08 am (UTC)
I COMPLETELY AGREE. At first I was like, "hmm, is this economic structure nonsense or not? I feel like it might be, but I don't know enough about economics to say for sure" and then I realized it wasn't even trying to work on that level and is instead a music video collage inspired by sad coal mining songs, Tom Joad, Hollywood Roman spectacle movies, and assorted other Americana. And on that level it's terrific. It works so much better than I would have expected (I'm still not thrilled with the narration, but that's more my own aversion to YA-style on-the-noseness than anything Suzanne Collins is doing wrong. It's perfectly functional narration that I just occasionally don't like).

I may be the only person in the world who is a little disappointed that Peeta's crush was not, in fact, 100% fabricated strategy for the games.

I wouldn't say I was disappointed, but I REALLY ENJOYED all the time I spent anxiously not knowing whether Peeta was mastermind or sweetheart (ultimately I was glad it was the latter because I'm a sentimental housewife who wants everyone to be nice).

Poor Katniss. :( Part of me wants to be irritated by the cliffhanger ending, but what did I expect? For it to be over? You can't survive the arena and expect it to be over.
Feb. 2nd, 2017 06:59 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure the world-building is 100% nonsense on an economic/geographic level, but in this first book at least it doesn't matter at alllll because as you say it's basically an emotion-filled music video collage.

I do wonder how the world-building will play out in the later books, which I gather are less straight-up struggle to survive in the gladiatorial arena and more about struggling to survive in the wider arena that is Society. Will I still be able to ignore the world-building faults then? I guess we'll have to see.
Feb. 5th, 2017 04:30 am (UTC)
I would enjoy the story of Balto. He was a hero!
Feb. 5th, 2017 04:40 am (UTC)
These dogs are amazing! They're incredibly smart - so much smarter and quicker on the uptake than I would be in any analogous situation. One of the guys in the relay wound up on some ice that had broken up, and he and his team were stuck with open water between them and the shore. The guy grabbed his lead dog and threw him across the water, hoping he would pull the ice floe onshore . . . but the line broke and fell in the water! So the dog went into the water, pulled out the line, rolled around to get it securely attached to his body, and pulled everyone to safety. <3
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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