March 16th, 2014


Books 4 and 5

4. Yearning for Normal, by Susan Ellison Busch. This is a powerfully written book on the author's struggles in dealing with her son, who has Deletion 22q.11. I had never heard of this condition but I guess it is fairly common. What happens is a small portion of the 22nd chromosome is deleted. This tiny deletion can cause a myriad of problems, as Busch outlines. Breathing difficulties. Developmental delays. Orthopedic difficulties. Even psychiatric issues. Busch relates her struggles in an honest and easy-to-follow tone. Her view also is interesting as someone who is not only a mother, but a nurse. This was an insightful read, and I'd recommend it for anyone facing a similar diagnosis.

5. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote. This has been on my want-to-read list for a couple of years now. We see novelized nonfiction on a fairly regular basis now, but from what I understand this book was groundbreaking for its time. Capote's narration of the murder of the prominent Clutter family, and the arrest, trial and execution are meticulously told. What comes out is a chilling portrait of two men - Dick Hickock and Perry Smith - who planned the murder of the family for money. The reason is chilling enough, but the cold calculation and utter lack of remorse, especially from Hickock, will make your skin crawl. The book also captures the scene of the town- the day of the murders, and the comparative aftermath, when once neighbors started casting suspicious eyes at each other before the culprits were caught. What was striking to me is just how different 1959 was, compared to today. Capote's book is not just a story about a brutal murder, but a time capsule. For example, this was a widely publicized case back then- but it was not national news. Today, something like this would probably be international news. It was much easier to disappear back then; indeed, half of the reason why Hickock and Smith were caught was because they were stupid and overconfident. Also have to give credit to the dogged police work as well; they had little to work with initially, and nothing like the internet or any easy means to get word out nation-wide.

Currently reading: Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris.
Dead Dog Cat

#27, 28

I've been so pressed that I haven't had a chance to read much, and if and when I have, I haven't had time to post about it, so I'm taking a moment to write it down here.

In the last several days I've finished reading two books. First was The Ides of April by Lindsey Davis. For some reason the author decided to step away from Falco, her longstanding protagonist, an "informer" (what in modern times would be a PI) in Imperial Rome, and instead she's shifted her focus to Falco's adopted daughter, who is trying to make her way some years after the last novel in the same job. This is the first novel testing those waters, and although it has a slow start, Davis does a good job of it in the end. If you've read any of the Falco series (which started with The Silver Pigs and moved on from there), this is a fine successor. If not, this can and will stand alone, though a few background details would be clearer if you've read the other books.

More recently, I finished reading Osprey Men-at-Arms #431: Britain's Secret War: The Indonesian Confrontation 1962 – 66, a war that I'd never known about. When this one was going on, I was in elementary school, and though we heard a bit about WWII, Korea, and more obviously, Vietnam, I never heard a peep about this fight. There's a lot of information about the whole issue including the political situation, and descriptions about the various battles. If you have any interest in the late history of European colonialism, this might be a book to read.
witching hour

Book 60: The Winds of Salem by Melissa de la Cruz

Book 60: The Winds of Salem (Beauchamp Family #3).
Author: Melissa de la Cruz, 2013.
Genre: Paranormal Romance. Witchcraft. Mythic. Time Travel.
Other Details: ebook. 307 pages.

At the end of The Serpent's Kiss a member of the Beauchamp family was transported back in time to Salem Massachusetts, 1692 with no memory of who they are in the 21st Century. Separated from their memory and family they appear to lack the common sense to realise that it is unwise to use magical powers in a society where an accusation of witchcraft can lead to a death sentence. As a result things get complicated and dangerous quickly. Back in 21st Century North Hampton everybody else tries to sort out the situation especially when they learn of the dire consequences that will occur to all concerned if said person dies in the past.

I've refrained from naming the time traveller, even though there is a small group of candidates, as it is a spoiler for events in Book 2. I found The Winds of Salem somewhat better than The Serpent's Kiss and it did have a resolution rather than running on and on as some series do.

My timey-wimey wibbly wobbly alert sounded a fair amount, especially in the use of modern day language during the foray into the 17th Century. This likely would have driven me wild in another book but I was willing to excuse it as I wasn't expecting great literature or even well researched historical fiction.

I remain a little disappointed that the Lifetime series didn't go with the exiled gods/goddesses theme.

Redefining Epic 10 PM Science Essays

The 10 PM Question, by Kate De Goldi
This book is sweet, and also funny. I was a bit wary of the loud PROBLEM NOVEL stamp set up by the first couple of chapters, but it stayed well on the side of "let's tell EVERYONE's story, not just those of the people without weird stuff going on" and far away from the "life sucks" porn.

Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013, edited by Tim Folger and Siddhartha Mukherjee
SO MUCH NEATO STUFF. And limited polemic. I mean, there was some polemic, but embedded in excellent essays, not just page after page of peroration like some of the pieces that found their way into earlier volumes. I think this may be my favorite in this series...

The Incal: The Epic Conspiracy, by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius
This is very weird. I almost stopped reading it in the first 10 pages. But I'm glad I didn't because I really got into it after about 30. Like a mashup of Promethea and bande dessinées, only weirder.

Redefining Realness, by Janet Mock
An excellent, pointed memoir. The voice is accessible and intelligent, the story gripping. Highly recommended.

Best American Essays 2013, edited by Robert Atwan and Cheryl Strayed
This collection was far more all-one-thing than many of those in previous years, but I also liked almost every essay in there, which is not the case every year. So, good show, Cheryl Strayed; and keep up the good work, Robert Atwan.
  • Current Music
    I have the Harlem Globetrotters theme stuck in my head