Long ago (at least last Tuesday) a Baron Von Vetteler demanded a large soup be filled with apes. To be clear, the apes weren’t cooked in the soup. They were added later. (It was a very large tureen and its top was shaped like a blowfish riding a unicorn.) The apes weren’t too keen on being in the soup, even though Baron V.V. had thoughtfully added a hint of banana to it and given them all banana-shaped beach balls to play with. It was a soup tureen full of cranky apes and that’s the truth! No one told the Baron any of this was a bad idea, because his money had purchased their silence and tacit approval. Still, pretty much everyone had thought it was a terrible idea from the start. If anyone had asked the apes, they would’ve said so too. Next week: cats in a mulligatawny stew.
Moral: If you’re not mocking the ridiculousness of the wealthy at every turn, you’re doing it wrong.
Additional moral: You have to be a pretty great ape to stoically put up with being put in a soup tureen with banana-shaped beach balls.
Mind’s Eye by Håkan Nesser. I keep reading detective and spy stories. (And also watching things like True Detective.) I’m not sure what’s driving this, what I find comforting in these fictions about people attempting to conceal and reveal the truth. This novel’s detective, Van Veeteren, is delightfully world-weary. There’s a pretty satisfying courtroom secene, too.
Death Will Have Your Eyes by James Sallis. What if a poet wrote a spy novel? This is about what you’d get, I think. Not sure why I’ve been reading so many spy and detective novels lately. Perhaps there’s some solace in these archetypal roles. An escape from the tyranny of the real. Perhaps they just suit my current melancholy frame of mind.
Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. One of the reasons I read books is to meet people who are very different from me. It helps me understand the ways I am a stranger. Strongly recommended.
Once upon a time there was a vagabond who was possibly also a scallywag. This vagabond wondered and wandered hither and yon, taking in the sights, rolling over and under hills and vales, generally avoiding the affordances and moral and ethical conundrums posed by the peoples of the farms and cities. The vagabond (who might’ve been a scallywag) once met a baboon hiding under a tree trunk and at first there was much screeching and to and froing, but eventually things settled down and they had teatime on an old mouldy stump.
Moral: Just because you’re a vagabond (or maybe a scallywag) doesn’t mean you can’t resolve your differences in a civilized way.
It was winter. It was cold. It was wet. It was almost snowing, but not quite. And the sun had gone packing off to, er, sunnier climes. The bear was hiberating. The rabbit was hibernating. The wolf was hibernating. The marmot was hibernating. The long haired guinea pig was hibernating. The hedgehog was hibernating. The earthworm was hibernating. The people were scurrying around trying to get stuff done, some of them miserable in wet socks and trousers. At least a couple had left their brelly at home.
Moral: On some of these winter days, hibernation sure does sound nice.
Once there was a monster called the Mumpler. The Mumpler basically constantly screeched things that everyone knew to be false. At first it was just an annoyance, really just a headache inducing scrawp. Some people just wanted to eat breakfast, but it was tough to enjoy the buckwheat pancakes with marionberry syrup with a side of bacon and a fruit cup with all that nonsense screaming by. The Mumpler sure bounced around a lot and seemed especially agitated when no one was paying it any mind. Some people tried reasoning with the Mumpler, providing evidence for things like, you know, left being left and black being black and other things like that. Really, they couldn’t even get a word in edgewise. To everyone’s horror, soon there were some people who thought that Mumpler was all right, wearing “white” shirts and dangerously signaling the opposite turn direction when driving. There were still others who, wanting to appear fairminded, discussed the possible merits of blue being red or zero being one. This was enough to get people to tear their hair out, not literally, but still. Finally, they decided they had enough. They used a shrink ray to shrink the Mumpler down to a manageable size and then stuck him in a sound-proofed terrarium. They weren’t monsters. There was plenty to eat in there. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Except for all the people in the “white” shirts, of course.
Moral: Sometimes it sure would be nice to have a science fictional solution to one’s problems.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow. I don’t remember, but I think I read this one because of the title. There seems to be a novelistic trend in parallel universes these days. Effective use of nested narratives. I dug it.
Once upon a time an idea for a fable occurred to me while I was stepping into the shower. Instead of writing the idea down, I took a shower instead (cat sitting stoically nearby). I thought that I would (of course) remember the marvelous idea–it seemed so memorable! The thought of it had made me smile. Perhaps it involved a pirate or a wombat or a robot made of matroshka nesting dolls. Or maybe the idea led with a funny character name like Nebood Farmalpoops or Brestige Nickelwomper. Or maybe the idea led with a moral such as “Moral: Maybe next time listen to your mother.” or “Moral: You can always dig yourself deeper.” Anyway, I took a shower, got distracted by coffee, and only hours later remembered that I had come up with an idea I loved that I then completely forgot about.
Moral: Some ideas are worth writing down so that you don’t have to rely on your brain to remember it.