Sunday, 4 March 2012

Sunday musings

I have come across two challenges today, that are mini-challenges specifically for March:

March Mystery Madness, hosted by Christina at  Reading Thru the Night, is about reading mysteries and posting a link to her blog.  That's all.  I neglected my mystery reading badly in February and have a huge pile to get to.  I like the idea of March Mystery Madness, too!  I'm mad for mysteries.....

The other challenge is for next week: The Irish Short Story Week Year Two, and is for the one week:  Mel at The Reading Life is hosting this one. It is on from March 12-22.  I can read a short story or three!  I mean, ghost stories from Sheridan LeFanu count, as well as convincing myself I can read Ulysses by reading one of James Joyce's short stories, counts. As I am part Irish, we always celebrate St Patrick's Day in my house, so this fits right in with the Irish Stew and the cabbage and the tea we have :-)  plus the wearing of the green.  You only have to read one story for the week, though Mel has drawn up a list of reading he wants to do every day.  Anyone in the mood for some Oscar Wilde?  Anne Enright? I wish poetry counted too - I will read some Yeats anyway, just because he is Irish, and in general to celebrate Irishness next week. Maybe I can find a short mystery story by an Irish writer and do both challenges at once!

Currently reading

I am currently reading Fables: Witches, and loving it.  I think it might be the darkness - I mean, they box up Death in the beginning, and he reminds me of the creepy Gentlemen from the Buffy episode I watched a few months ago (season 4). The nightmare creatures were captured, but there was an unbinding spell performed (in the book before, I believe, since Witches is dealing with the aftereffects) and now all the nightmares are released again - due to Death, of course.

 Baba Yaga is in the section I am reading now, and she has horrible spiders around her, as well as her chicken legs house.....I love this series.  Fairy tales twisted.  I know I should wait for Once Upon a Time in a few weeks, but I have these out from the library (I have Rose Red out also), and I don't know if I can renew them (since they are so wildly popular), so I'm reading them while I have them.  I think I might break down and by this one, it's so good.  I'll review more when I finish it.  ***It turns out I never reviewed Hush, as it was at the time that my husband and I were separating.  I did watch "Hush", and it is still as terrifying as ever.  The whole episode is magical and frightening.  Losing your voice, everyone losing their voices, and those gentlemen moving soundlessly, floating just above the ground. 

I've also begun the short stories of Connie Willis, in The Winds of Marble Arch.  I read the titular story last night. It almost made me cry at the ending. It's the story of a married couple who return to England for a visit, and of how the main character experiences a cold wind that smells of death, while in the London Underground.  He spends the next few days exploring where he feels them (even as they are awful and hair-raising, he wants to know more), and in the end, it becomes a musing on the arch we all go through.  It ends unexpectedly beautifully, and that's what made me want to cry.  I find this often in Willis's short stories, that what the story is about ends up - even if it's science fiction based - to do with emotions, and being a person.  Subterranean Press insists they put out a trade softcover version, though if they did they sold out so quickly that I never saw it.  This book is now on my most-wanted list.

So what are you reading on this Sunday in early March?  Do you have any plans for this month?  And yes, I've noticed none of these are mysteries!


Cath said...

The Winds of Marble Arch is sounding so good that I thought I would check it out. No copy at the library and the cheapest copy on Amazon is £27!!! Rats. I'll check eBay in a moment.

I'm currently reading Down Under by Bill Bryson which is excellent. That's my main read... I'm reading a couple of others as and when. After that I'm not sure. I got Doomsday Book out but I also have a book of short stories edited by Neil Gaiman that I want to start. I don't seem to be a mystery reading mood at the moment.

Debi said...

Oooh, both these mini-challenges sound delightfully fun. I don't think I have anything appropriate to read in the hotel here, but hey, the library is right around the corner, so I've got no excuse not to go for it.

Your description of The Winds of Marble Arch completely sold me. Sad to say, I've never read anything, short story or novel, by Connie Willis. Yet another of those horrible gaps in my reading! Must fix that.

Becca said...

Thanks for the info about the March Mystery challenge...I'm already into that one!

Susan said...

Cath: I know, copies are so hard to find, and the ones that are, are extremely expensive - over $80 here is the starting price for the second hand shops on Amazon. I'll keep looking too.

You've been reading lots of nonfiction lately, I've noticed. I wish I could read more of it. I keep trying, then I put the books down and don't get back to them.

I like that, 'as and when'. Exactly right! The pile I have here by my laptop is about 6 books high, and now that I've been thinking about St Patrick's day, I want to try Ulysses again. Maybe! lol

Debi: Bellwether by Connie Willis, or Doomsday Book, both by her are my favourites. I hope your library has Winds of Marble Arch.

Becca: lol! I know, I thought, an excuse to read mysteries for a month! :-) I like that.

CónegoZ+ said...

Pt. 1
Regarding 'The Winds of Marble Arch', I'm going to have to await the Kindle version-- I have a "terrible problem". Having just had to move back to the States from Portugal (pain management is a brand new specialty there, and my doctor, whom I loved dearly, reached the end of her competence and training before I reached the end of my pain, so I'm now in Seattle with one of the US's main pain clinics), I have had a fact of life thrust in my face.
We had some seventy cartons of books in a storage unit (with a bunch of other possessions we couldn't afford to ship with us), and are now in an 'urban-sized' (read 'small') 2-bedroom apartment in a restaurant-friendly neighborhood (man does not live by a single addiction alone-- for me, two at least are books and ethnic
restaurants). Anyway, having had to purchase three new and four used bookcases, we're down to maybe four boxes of unshelved books, along with a shortage of wall space.
Good enough... for now. But sometime between now and the end of April, our shipment will arrive from Portugal, containing amongst household items, etc., one tall bookcase and some forty boxes of books, mostly hardcover professional texts (the problem with having overlapping specialties is you need overlapping libraries: I'm a priest (theology, church history, et alia) and pastoral counselor (general counseling techniques, ethics, diagnostics) with special certifications in traumatic stress, combat stress, and thanatology (death, the dying process, and bereavement). Plus, of course, as I was living in Portugal, appropriate dictionaries, grammars, and Portuguese theological and ecclesiological books as well as hagiographies, plus altar books and the like.
As an Anglican priest I am allowed to marry... as a husband I find myself having to defend the phrase that this blog has made famous: You Can Never Have Too Many Books. If I had a nickle for everytime I've heard "Do you really need all these books?", I could buy a bunch more books.
The compromise (after 20 years of marriage she knows that I, at least, don't believe you can have too many books, and cannot be so convinced) was that for Christmas I received a Kindle, and now have well over 300 books or texts in a space thinner than a paperback. It's not the same-- I miss ink and paper sometimes-- but with my C-spine and shoulder issues, I've learned that it is a really remarkably bad idea to lie on one's back with a hard-covered tome held up over my face, trying to read (learned whilst blacking an eye and breaking a pair of reading glasses!).

CónegoZ+ said...

And finally, a recommendation. When the frustration of trying to get all the books shelved (forget organized-- that's for some much-later day), I have all the books of what may be one of the best comedic authors now writing: although he admittedly has a sick mind and a diseased imagination, both of which are good things in comedic writers, he doesn't do the juvenile "booger joke" humor of Dave Barry.
If you don't know the books of Christopher Moore, discover them. His first was Practical Demonkeeping, which also introduces readers to the locale on the northern California coast where many but not all of his books are situated. (His two vampire stories, Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, and You Suck: A Love Story, take place in San Francisco, and introduce us to, among other things, frozen turkey bowling.)

Fluke is about (as the name suggests) whales, and is set in Hawai'i-- it has a bit more of an ecological moral than his other works, and whil he doesn't allow a minor thing the survival of entire species distract him from hilarity, you come away discovering the point's been made.
I won't attempt to mini-review all of his books, but one word os warning-- his single most-popular book, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, is not recommended for anyone who has difficulties either with satire about holy things, or who can't or won't discern the difference between comedy and heresy. The book, curiously enough, avoids much out-right heresy or anti-Christian bias-- Jesus, or Joshua, closer to the Hebrew, is called "Josh" by His not-as-bright friend, is treated with more respect than is Moore's usual wont. However, there are a number of conservative Christians who would not see this book as appropriate, and should refrain from spending their money on it.

[Finally, the one piece of Moore's work I'll criticize: The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror. While amusing (and with, finally, a take on the now-hyper-popular zombie fiction that's funnier than it is gross, a neat trick for 'living dead' creatures that eat brains), and with the cameos by characters from almost every thing else he'd written to date, in the end I still felt a bit that, rather than reading a new novella by a true comic genius, I had helped him make his car payment.
Still, when we're talking about the author of a dozen-plus brilliant comedic books and two-three short stories (and a brand new novel, Sacré Bleu, to hit bookstores next month), complaining about one novella seems a bit petty.

Read; enjoy.

Literary Feline said...

March sounds like a great month to devote to mysteries. :-) I seem to be devoting it to a nonfiction tome at the moment--fortunately one I am enjoying!

The Irish Short Story Week sounds fun too.

I remember the gentlemen from Buffy. They were very creepy! Makes me want to read Fables: Witches now that you've compared the two.

I hope you have a great week, Susan!

Susan said...

ConegoZ+: thank you for your lovely long comments! Having moved back from the UK 11 years ago myself, I know all about shipping books overseas. I hope you find space for all your books! and help to live with your pain more comfortably (if it can't be eased).

As for Christopher Moore, I have heard of him, and seen his books for many years. I have heard good things about him, however he hasn't drawn me yet. I say yet, because I might one day pick him up and discover i love him! So I will put your recommendation in my mind as another plus for him :-)

thank you writing, do you have a blog? I'll come see if you do.

Literary Feline: I've noticed the non-fiction you've been reading! I said to Cath above too, that I wish I could read more of it, but I seem to be picking them up and then leaving them unfinished - I think I've done that to 7 in the last several months. Not because I'm not enjoying them, but because they aren't holding my attention - I need fiction to distract my mind while I work through my life situation. I think! lol

Fables: Witches is fun. I hope you have a good week too :-)

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Yay for March Mystery Madness!! I love this little themed challenges that don't have any type of pressure or rules. ;) Hope you read something really fun--I'm going to try my hand at Doyle.

Glad they're making Hobbit more kid friendly! But hurry up already!! ;)

Susan said...

Trish: Oh, I think The Hobbit is going to be for adults too! I just meant the basic story of The Hobbit is more for kids - less scary than LotR is in general. I know what you mean by hurrying up with it though!

Is this your first time reading Doyle? Very cool! I read him long time ago and really enjoyed them. I hope you like meeting Sherlock and Watson!

Kathleen said...

I've had Connie Willis on my TBR for awhile. You have reminded me that I need to move her stuff up my list!

Susan said...

Kathleen: yaaay! I hope you try something - Bellwether or Doomsday Book are what I recommend.