October 10, 2006

go away from this place

Posted in books tagged , , at 11:47 am by placeinthestars

I started reading Alpha Beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World by John Man this morning. It’s pretty fascinating, even though I really haven’t yet read anything I didn’t already know.

Also, I finally picked up Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky again (I’d put it down to read something else and then forgot to go back to it. I have two or three other books I did that with that need finishing. Hmmm…) and finished it on the train on Friday. Too much about fish, but otherwise very interesting. And the section on Chinese food made me hungry.

I seem to be on a non-fiction kick lately. I also have a couple books on virii waiting, because you know I adore being terrified out of my mind by true stories of plagues. I don’t know, it’s like a thing. It scares me more than almost anything in the world, and yet I end up going back and reading more books on it. Ebola. Smallpox. The 1918 flu pandemic. Black plague and the great mortality. TB. My personal hit parade of horror and yet I need to know more.



June 11, 2006

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.

Posted in books tagged , , at 2:07 pm by placeinthestars

I read War for the Oaks by Emma Bull yesterday. It was all right. I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it, and oh god, the eighties. The descriptions of the clothes definitely date it, which is fine, but man, I was giggling about some of it. And a lot of the music that came out of the Minneapolis scene in the ’80s is, of course, dear to my heart (Mats! Bob! Prince!), but I had a hard time getting into it at first. The beginning felt very rote urban fantasy to me, and good god, would it have hurt to give Eddi an “e” at the end of her name? I know that’s a crazy thing to be annoyed by, but it pinged me badly. And of course, she’s chosen, she’s talented, she gets to have the best band ever! Maybe it’s just because my own Mary Sues are inevitably singers/musicians, but it took me a lot to get over that initial resistance, and I never did really warm to Eddi, though I liked all the secondary characters.

I hope I wasn’t supposed to be surprised by anything that actually happened, because I thought most of the plot twists were telegraphed early on.

I think it was a brilliant idea to posit that musicians/artists/poets have their own magic and thus are most capable of both serving and resisting Faerie, but writing about music is always, always problematic, and it didn’t always work for me.

I don’t mean to sound so negative. I did enjoy the book – I don’t feel like it was a waste of the few hours I spent reading it, but I also don’t think it’s a book I’ll reread.

Now I’ve picked up Salt by Mark Kurlansky and I’m only 50 pages in and yet it has somehow managed to mention (either directly or obliquely) so many things I have a vague (or pointed) interest in, not to mention a shout-out to Trapani, in Sicily, which is where my grandmother was from, so I’m enjoying it on a number of levels, not just the informational, which is highly interesting in its own right.

*Subject quote from Isak Dinesen