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On 2020-03-20 at 7:07 PM, Brad said:

I finished reading Home but found it a bit unsatisfying. It seemed to build a crescendo and then dissipates. One reviewer said it seemed that Morrison got bored with it and brought it to a swift conclusion. 

I'll be wrapping this up today (as it is when the e-book goes back to the library!).  I sort of see what's she's going for here (a bit of an inversion of the Odyssey but about a man who had no intention of returning home except for the bond with his sister), so I assume that as soon as he gets home the quest is over.  I do think her Korean war scenes are a bit over-the-top, and most of the characterizations are wafer-thin.  For sure not her best work...

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While it is quite good, I have stalled a bit on Camus's The Plague, but I'll likely finish it this week.

In other thematic reading, I have been dipping into Xavier de Maistre's Voyage Around My Room and A Nocturnal Expedition 'Round My Room.  My library doesn't have these, but the original translations are out of copyright and can be easily found on the internet.

After all this, it will be Kundera's The Incredible Lightness of Being, which I've never actually read (or seen the movie for that matter).

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This is a bit out of my wheelhouse, as it is relatively rare I read graphic novels, but it is definitely well put-together.


It's basically a retrospective of a relatively unsung cartoonist who covers a lot of the history of Singapore using a wide variety of techniques and genres.  At one point, he has robot step in and save student protesters from the police, later he writes a strip deeply indebted to Pogo, but going on about local politics, then there is a superhero called Roach Man, who has basically the same back story as Spiderman etc.  The most interesting is when the cartoonist comes to SF, meets a bunch of cartoonists there but still doesn't get a big break.  But what he does pick up is a copy of PKD's The Man in the High Castle.  So he writes a cartoon about a parallel world where a different political party dominates Singapore's government.  There are detailed notes at the end for people, like me, who know little to nothing about Singapore's and Malaysia's history. 


(There's yet another twist, so I would wait to read the Wikipedia page until after you read the book, if it seems something that would appeal to you.)

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 16/04/2020 at 5:31 PM, ghost of miles said:

Brand new book from historian Mike Davis, whose previous book City Of Quartz has become a benchmark among Los Angeles histories:


Just read a review of it in the Guardian. Very much your sort of book, I'd say, David.

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I have to admit that I am just not in the right frame of mind to sit down and read through these books I've stockpiled.  It would seem to be the perfect time, but I am actually just as busy at work (thankfully) even though working remotely.  I do think as the weather gets nicer, I'll go outside and read more.

I am making pretty good progress on Stephen Jay Gould's Ever Since Darwin, which is drawn from his early columns in Natural History Magazine.

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I've never been a big fan of audiobooks, perhaps because I generally don't drive anywhere, and I would typically prefer to sit down and read something on the page rather than have it read to me.  However, I have been exploring them just a bit because our library has a fair number of audiobooks as part of its on-line offerings.  They have quite a few unabridged editions of Toni Morrison novels, all read by Toni Morrison.  So far I have listened to The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Paradise.  I find it interesting to see what she emphasizes, particularly when she reads out dialogue between characters.  Sometimes the dialogue is a bit casual, just things said back and forth or one person is passing on information to another, and sometimes it is much more freighted.  (Here I am thinking of some of the things Guitar says to Milkman for instance.  Hearing her read it in a certain way made me pay a bit more attention.)  Nonetheless, I still don't love audiobooks, and I'll probably listen to her read Beloved, and that will probably be it. 

That said, I'm more than a little annoyed that regional-blocking prevents me from hearing Samuel Jackson reading Chester Himes's A Rage in Harlem.  I'm sure that is a somewhat intense experience.  Audible has this, but only if you live in the States.

I did enjoy Neil Gaiman reading Norse Mythology, particularly when he was voicing Thor.  He runs through pretty much all the key tales from the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, and it takes just a bit over 6 hours to hear him read his book.  For me it was entertaining listening to him (he has a good performing voice), and while I probably won't seek out Neverwhere or The Ocean at the End of the Lane (which he also reads), I won't completely rule it out (by the end of the lock-down period at any rate).  The library has American Gods also, but this time it is read by a full cast rather than by Gaiman.  Not sure how I feel about that.

I've been surprisingly bad about buckling down and reading, though I am nearly done with the Stephen Jay Gould book.  I think the problem is that I am not reading on transit and I can't go to the gym and read on the stationary bikes.  I was going to read outside more, but it has been very chilly up here, and now it's going to rain for close to a week straight.  So it's just going to take a while to really get back into the right frame of mind.


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