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...and school and work are cancelled for one more day. Uni sending out increasingly hedging emails last night was kind of amusing, I admit. Public transport here still somewhere between dodgy and nonexistant.


So, book meme, filched from [personal profile] schneefink:

List 10 books that have stayed with you. Don't take but a few minutes, and don't think too hard - they don't have to be the 'right' or 'great' works, just ones which have touched you.

I ended up cheating a little, because my mind drew a total blank after about four, so I scrolled through Goodreads and took whatever immediately jumped out with some emotional something-or-other...I also found that I remember when, and even where, I first read a lot of these, so that's part of it as well. I don't particularly measure life in books that way, but a lot of these kinda stick out.


Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke - This was far (far, far) from the first SF book I read, but I think it was the first one that blew my mind a little? I also found it shamelessly emotional and still think it's beautifully written. It was given to me by my best friends dad, raiding who's bookcase had started me on the path to genre fannishness, after she had moved to the USA and I visited her and this was for the flight back. (I think I was 13. I remember this was just before 9/11 and thinking how absurdly easy all the airport stuff in the US had been.)


The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro - I re-read this recently and found I love it even more now. It's just so precise and so restrained and devastating, and works on so many layers, over and over, that all interact with each other. The plot, the prose, the persona, the philosophizing. It just completely shook me out of myself when I read it. (In the army, on the Egyptian border, while doing 12/12's on this utterly idiotic checkpoint.)


A Song of Ice and Fire, George RR Martin - Read in the boot (yes, boot) of a car while driving to Eilat with family, age 12 or so. I remember waiting desperately for the third book to come out. (Oh, the innocence.) I do love these books (never seen the show, i'm afraid) and i've been very fannish about them for a long time. I love the multiple readings they support, the deconstruction of fantasy tropes yet the unabashed fantasticality of them and how much it's possible to argue about them.


To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis - read in junior high, probably? I love farce, and it's hard to pull off in general and particularly hard in writing. I still re-read this once a year or so, because it always makes me feel better.


Jack of Shadows, Roger Zelazny - borrowed off of that same Dad-of-best-friend's bookshelf. This one always sticks with me because it's basically about geography. One of the first books I can remember reading that really hit that place I love of intersecting questions of genre with questions of landscape. This place is different from that place, and we are different in it. Let's talk about that.


A Peace to End all Peace, David Fromkin - I'd basically gone through everything I wanted to read in my (very small) junior high library, so I moved across the aisle to the non-fiction. I don't think this was the first history book I ever read for fun, but it was the first one that was fun, and opened up history as something weird and interesting and relevant.


A Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez - highschool. I remember a maths teacher taking it away from me in class, which hadn't happened in a while by that point. Just a really emotional, visceral, can't-stop-reading this reaction.


A Tale of Love and Darkness, Amos Oz - someone from my commune got me Charles Robert Wilson's Spin for my birthday (I suspect this was in the army. I was also more insight into who I was and what I liked than that person had ever shown otherwise in the six odd years of our extremely close...Acquaintance? Association? English doesn't have a good single word for the relationship you have with people who are members of the same anarchist-marxist-commune-group as you. Trust me, it often isn't 'friendship'.) Anyway, I had already read it, but when I went to exchange it, because it had been given to me in Hebrew and in the context of something very...Israeli, I felt I should get an Israeli book, of which I (alas) don't read that many.

So I got this and couldn't stop reading it. It's so personal and intimate. It's about books and politics and words, words, words, and Jerusalem and Russia, and the holocaust and the conflict, and running to and running from and being immigrants and trying to narrate your life so it makes sense, even though it doesn't.


Market Forces, Richard K. Morgan - read while walking on a beach, when commune-group decided to take a hike (literally) because it was felt things were going badly with our quest to battle the alienation of late-stage consumer-capitalism. Which one member of group reading a book rather than talking to anyone surely contributed to. But I thought it was about false consciousness and the deadening effects of late-stage consumer capitalism, so that was all fine. I was awful when I was 18, ok? (It's a good book though.)


The City and the City, China Mieville - this one is just dizzyingly fun (yet disconcerting) to read as a Jerusalemite. I found myself giggling and wincing at the same time at a lot of what the book does, and it's about geography again, and about genre. It deconstructs genre through the deconstruction of geography. That just gives me all the feels.
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Hanukkah is over! Glory be. I don't have anything against the holiday, per se, except that it's the only one my family makes even the slightest pretense of celebrating. We love to eat on Yom Kippur and have pork on passover. But for some reason, we go through with the candle lighting business, all eight days of it. It's not a bad tradition, but given that I don't believe in god and cannot, for the life of me, sing, trying to hum the prayer and light the thing for four nights (my sister gets the other four, mercifully) becomes increasingly awkward. It's always outworn it's welcome by the time it's done.

Yeah, yeah, I have no soul.


The only book I finished this week was JK Rowling/Robert Galbraith's The Cuckoo's Calling. I really enjoyed it but hardly have anything to say about it. It's not nearly as, well, mean as The Casual Vacancy. I really expected that sometimes savage eye Rowling has for character's weaknesses and pretensions to be at it's sharpest when writing about a world of rich starlets, rappers and fashion designers, but it's surprising restrained. (I admit i'm disappointed.) Cormoran Strike, our hero, is a fairly fun presence. Well, not fun, but neither tedious nor precious. He's very good at his job and has a decidedly cool backstory, but he's not fluffy or polished. He has his pretensions and his vanities, and enough going on in his life - a vastly complicated family, a bright-eyed new assistant, a dramatic ex-girlfriend - that will all surely reappear to good effect in any sequel. The mystery was pretty good too.

Actually, I also read The Princess and the Queen, by George RR Martin. It's a prequel novella thing to ASOIAF (not Dunk & Egg, even earlier,) and is written like a - very dramatic - history rather than prose. It's not terribly satisfying as a story, but it's as epic as anything I've ever read. It's probably not going to go into my canon of favorite GRRM stuff, but it's got this sweep, this brutal sense of glory and tragedy that GRRM sometimes deconstructs so well, and sometimes just goes all in with. I liked it despite myself, in short.
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I'm having a blast working my way through Remington Steele, but I know if I watch an episode I end up watching another one (and then probably another one) and I need to be up early tomorrow. (And I have that sinking feeling of oh-noez-it-will-be-over-soon, so I catch myself deliberately trying to stretch it out.) 

So since I'm on an 80's kick anyway, and this had been at the back of my head for a while, because, hey, it sounds neat. I'm not actually a completionist, but it feels kinda cool to claim that I am (like trying on a monocle. Or something), and I've read a lot of what George R. R. Martin has written. I figured now that i'm immersed in 80's stuff anyway and it maybe doesn't jump out as datedly unwatchable quite as badly, I might as well go and finally watch Beauty and the Beast, 1987. 

Pilot: Once Upon A Time in the City of New York. Very vague, quasi-spoilers for pilot, lots of rambling about GRRM. 
 

 

Read more... ) 

 TL;DR - Sometimes clunky but effective and even evocative in places, possibly more interesting than it pretends to be. (Possibly not?) Will keep watching, if only to place in pop-culture context of Urban Fantasy/Romance.

 


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