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.

The Lost Fable

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.

Gemina (Book 2 of the Illuminae Files) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I love the wild use of typography and visual design in these books. Also, the science fiction story’s pretty great too.

I thought that Deadpool was the first Marvel character to break the fourth wall, but it turns out David Burn’s Sensational She-Hulk did it first.

Something Deeply Hidden by Sean Carroll. I’ve read other books about quantum mechanics. Nothing else has got me as close to feeling like I get it. A masterpiece of explanation.

The Shoemaker Who Put All the Hats in the Wrong Place

Once there was a shoemaker. (Name of Barrister, go figure.) This shoemaker was a real dab hand at making shoes. Just shoes of all varieties, materials, and colors. Her real specialty, though, were simple, longlasting, durable, plain, comfortable shoes. Pretty much entirely ignored by the fashionable set, but highly prized by those who valued ache-free feet.

One day her friend the Haberdasher (went by Toothpuller of the Eastern Toothpullers) needed a whole mess of hats moved into a new hat warehouse. Toothpuller wondered if Barrister could make her a sign letting people know about the new hat emporium, so to speak.

The shoemaker made the sign, because the haberdasher was such a good friend. Unfortunately, neither of them noticed the address was missing from the sign until much later.

Moral: Sometimes you’re much better off hiring the right person for the job at the start.

Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison is a delightful story of a princess raised by bears and dragons. I’m amazed I’d never heard of it before, but happy I finally did. Track down a copy. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Lidless Links (Undying Umbrellabird* Edition)

Some things I stumbled across lately or not so lately.

  • Whoever’s behind Kicks Condor is definitely more into blogging than I am–with a level of seriousness I just can’t muster. I appreciate the energy behind this deliriously visually expressive site. I’d be happy to see some of that early 2000s blog energy come back though!
  • Kicks Condor has this cool tool called Fraidy Cat for keeping track of a bunch of stuff (blogs, twitter, instagram, etc) in once place. Me, I just use Netnewswire (have been since its beginning), but I’ll give Fraidy Cat a whirl.
  • Communion of Saints is a 77 track album (it almost needs some other word…) of songs that commemorate 77 of the canonized saints. Haunting and mesmerizing. (I’ve been streaming it. I’m on track 39, Jessica Way – Daughter Of Light (St Philomena)). I’m mostly just impressed with the scope and execution of this project. (Found on The Last Blog.)
  • “Stab a Book, the Book Won’t Die” by Craig Mod. As a bibliophile, I always enjoy reading what Craig has to say about books and the book industry. Looking at things, historically, from the perspective of the book can lend some intriguing insights, as this essay does. “A printed book is an object over which no third party has agency once in your possession.” Contrast this with [fill in the blank with a modern technological contrivance, such as a smartphone].
  • Related to the above: “Reading in the Age of Constant Distraction” by Mairead Small Stead. For me, reading books was often a distraction from other things, so it’s weird to have so many distractions now from reading books. Beautifully put: “The gift of reading, the gift of any encounter with art, is that this time spent doesn’t leave me when I lift my eyes from the book in my lap: it lingers, for a minute or a day.”
  • Sometimes I recall books and then can’t remember their titles. I find this deeply frustrating, but sometimes I manage to track them down, like Stephen Elliot’s book Happy Baby. I saw him read from this book at Powell’s Books a long, long time ago.
  • This visual essay about maps on Lapham’s Quarterly is beautiful and worth checking out.
  • That’s all for today.

* I found it on this list of animals that start with U.

Finished reading Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer last night. A good read before bed, during that liminal drowsiness. Cuts to the emotional heart of what’s so dire and sad about climate ruination and humanity’s complicity in it. A tough book to stomach, rewards careful chewing.