There are a lot of reasons I moved to the south. Waking up to a half-inch of snow, 30-40 KPH winds, ice, and freezing rain, are not among those reasons. However, I have been soup simmering on the stove, a mug of tea on the table, and a stack of books. Up for today:
The Brothers Karamazov: This has been on my list for years, ever since the first time I read The Idiot (not about politics, surprisingly) in the mid-90s and was told that Karamazov was Fyodor D’s best. Finally got around to starting it when the weather started taking a bad turn, and let’s just say that listening to a family of assholes argue about what Christianity means to them is a perfect companion to the wind and rain outside. More posts about this wonderfully, beautifully horrible book a little later today.
The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman. Her book The March of Folly, about military stupidity in the face of blinding fact, was one of my favorite books in college. This book is about the first month of WWI, and it reads like a novel. Especially, it reads like one of those slow train-crashes of a novel where you can see everyone doing the exact worst thing in the worst fashion to have the worst possible collision with their enemies. She adds in all of their thoughts and feelings about how the military intelligence of the time was stupid because it told them things they didn’t want to hear. I’m trying to read this without hearing Kaiser Wilhelm II scream “Inconceivable!” in his best Wallace Shawn/ Vizzini voice every time he learns new information, but I’m failing.
The Light Bearer, Donna Gillespie. This showed up on a thread in r/AskHistorians, one I’d discovered while looking up reviews and criticism of the Tuchman book. Historical fiction is perhaps my second favorite form, after any kind of speculative fiction, but I’ve also been burned out by a lot of it, recently. A hundred pages in, it seems pretty decent. She dances dangerously close to a few well-worn clichés but still keeps the story fresh and fun. Already, I like how the magic/ religious system of the Tribes is shown to be both a positive and a negative influence in their lives, rather than just:
- A beautiful, incomprehensible system that the modern ugly civilized world can never truly comprehend, or never wants to, since it belonged to the Unwashed Savage; the last light of a dying age that was wiped off the face of the universe so Man could have Gadgets and Convenience;
- A horrible, twisted system of control that kept the people of the Earth from advancing, and was only used so the Patriarchy could RUIN EVERYTHING.
Unfortunately, I know enough of the setting and time of the novel to know that it’s not going to have a happy ending, or at least not many of them, but I’m still interested in it.
Up on Deck: Caliban’s War, James S. A. Corey, and Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor.