Category Archives: Uncategorized
So good. From The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.
From The Man Without Qualities
Señor Velasquez Dos de los Tressos stared at the cat lingering motionless on the windowsill, its long curved tail draping down below. The cat’s round unblinking eyes stared at de los Tressos and, with a flushing face, he averted his eyes away, deftly mopping his brow with his florid, scarlet handkerchief and quickly twirling one of his thin, outjutting mustachios. When de los Tressos looked back, the cat was gone! Vanished! The curtain drifted gently back and forth even though the window was closed. He looked frantically about the room. Ottoman, no! Scattered blankets on the chaise longue, not this time! The sideboard with the deliciously concealed sherry and amarillo, never! de los Tressos felt subtle pressure on the back of his left calf and stumbled backwards, crashing into a small round table, holding a cactus and several decks of cards, which scattered all about, jacks and queens and aces fluttering through the air.
Señor Velasquez Dos de los Tressos lay on the floor and groaned. The cat leapt onto his chest and settled there, purring, shoving its paws gently into his chest.
But though there were no formal parties, it is true that there were now two broadly opposing worldviews floating in the political ether waiting to be tapped as needed. As the crisis over the Lex Agraria revealed, it was no longer a specific issue that mattered so much as the urgent necessity to triumph over rivals. Reflecting on the recurrent civil wars of the Late Republic, Sallust said, “It is this spirit which has commonly ruined great nations, when one party desires to triumph over another by any and every means and to avenge itself on the vanquished with excessive cruelty.” Accepting defeat was no longer an option.
The Storm Before the Storm
My son wants me to do a podcast that’s just us doing homework together. Good idea or… the BEST idea?!
I think I first read A Wizard of Earthsea when I was 9 or 10. I got bit by the fantasy bug bad when I was a kid, reading Tolkien and CS Lewis at a very young age. I was hungry for more books with wizards in them–even books by Bellairs, more horror than fantasy, but still had the whiff of magic about them.
To say I loved A Wizard of Earthsea might be overstating it, but it definitely smacked of what Lewis called the “numinous”. It seemed to glint and sparkle with a light unseen, hinting at hidden depths and deeper secrets. Much like the way Gandalph seemed foolish and wise at the same time, hinting at some holy power.
I don’t reread books much. Life’s short, you know? But my kids are about the age I was when I read it and it got me thinking about it. So I picked it up for them and then ended up reading it myself.
It holds up. I’d easily recommend it to an adult reader. There are subtleties to it that I know I missed as a child. But the friendship between Ged and Vetch still resonated powerfully with me, much as it did when I was a child when I longed for close friends like that. Now, as an adult, that I have those close and longstanding friendships, I can think fondly of my past self who got this thing so right. Ged is such a solitary creature, but he really comes alive from the light of his friend, like a sunflower turning its face to the sun.
I bounced off Tombs of Atuan pretty hard. It wasn’t the epic wizard tale I was looking for. Ged doesn’t even show up until halfway into the book! Took me a couple years and a couple tries before I finished it and the sheer obstinacy of youth. I’m looking forward to rereading it more than I did its prequel, though.
I once met Ursula LeGuin at Powell’s Books here in Portland. She read from a new book of short stories. I was enthralled. In the signing line, I stuttered and stammered over my enthusiasm and she said something short and wry and scowled at me in a not totally unfriendly way. It didn’t do anything to dampen my enthusiasm, and may actually have deepened it. I went on to read most of her other books. If you haven’t, I’d recommend doing so.
I don’t think you’ll regret it.