I’ve been trying to read more books from my local library’s “recommended” sections, to avoid a reading rut. And one such book was Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell.
It was great! It’s a collection of magical realism short stories. Nice poignant slices of life.
From The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay:
The pajamas were patterned with red pinstripes and tiny blue escutcheons. Sammy was wearing a pair that had red escutcheons with blue pinstripes. That was Rosa’s idea of fostering a sense of connection between father and son. As any two people who have ever dressed in matching pajamas will attest, it was surprisingly effective.
This one’s gross. From Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon:
The room contained a few dozen living human bodies, each one a big sack of guts and fluids so highly compressed that it will squirt for a few yards when pierced. Each one is built around an armature of 206 bones connected to each other by notoriously fault-prone joints that are given to obnoxious creaking, grinding, and popping noises when they are in other than pristine condition. This structure is draped with throbbing steak, inflated with clenching air sacks, and pierced by a Gordian sewer filled with burbling acid and compressed gas and asquirt with vile enzymes and solvents produced by the many dark, gamy nuggets of genetically programmed meat strung along its length. Slugs of dissolving food are forced down this sloppy labyrinth by serialized convulsions, decaying into gas, liquid, and solid matter which must all be regularly vented to the outside world lest the owner go toxic and drop dead. Spherical, gel-packed cameras swivel in mucus-greased ball joints. Infinite phalanxes of cilia beat back invading particles, encapsulate them in goo for later disposal. In each body a centrally located muscle flails away at an eternal, circulating torrent of pressurized gravy.
Two quick recommendations today!
One is Battlestar Galactica the board game. It’s very good; basically Mafia the board game.
The players (all characters from the show) are each given secret cards that say whether they’re human or cylon. Halfway through the game they’re each given another one (a ‘sleeper cylon’ flavor).
The humans’ goal is to survive (not run out of food, fuel, people, or morale) until the fleet reaches their destination. The cylons’ goal is to sap those resources and slow the fleet down.
Often the secret cylons sabotage while amongst the humans. So it makes for lots of interesting accusations and all that jazz.
The other recommendation is the book Accelerando by Charles Stross. I read it back when it was up for the Hugo in 2006, but I had forgotten the name until recently.
It’s about humanity reaching a singularity and is full of interesting ideas and technologies. Worth a read if like science fiction. It’s even available as a CC-licensed download, so no reason not to read it!
From The Butler Did It by P. G. Wodehouse:
There was rather a lot of Roscoe Bunyan. … Most of his acquaintances would have preferred far less of this singularly unattractive young man, but he had insisted on giving full measure, bulging freely in all directions. His face was red, the back of his neck overflowed his collar, and there had recently been published a second edition of his chin. It is not surprising, therefore, that such passers-by as had a love for the beautiful should have removed their gaze from him after a brief glance and transferred it to the girl who was standing beside him.
From Robinson Crusoe, which I made Elaine suffer through during our Chicago trip:
I went home again, filled with the belief that some man or men had been on shore there; or, in short, that the island was inhabited, and I might be surprised before I was aware; and what course to take for my security I knew not.
Oh, what ridiculous resolutions men take when possessed with fear! It deprives them of the use of those means which reason offers for their relief. The first thing I proposed to myself was, to throw down my enclosures, and turn all my tame cattle wild into the woods, lest the enemy should find them, and then frequent the island in prospect of the same or the like booty: then the simple thing of digging up my two corn-fields, lest they should find such a grain there, and still be prompted to frequent the island: then to demolish my bower and tent, that they might not see any vestiges of habitation, and be prompted to look farther, in order to find out the persons inhabiting.
These were the subject of the first night’s cogitations after I was come home again, while the apprehensions which had so overrun my mind were fresh upon me, and my head was full of vapours. Thus, fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself, when apparent to the eyes; and we find the burden of anxiety greater, by much, than the evil which we are anxious about.
This entry brought to you by the letter W.
From Books Do Furnish a Room:
The General, speaking one felt with authority, always insisted that, if you bring off adequate preservation of your personal myth, nothing much else in life matters. It is not what happens to people that is significant, but what they think happens to them.
And later on that same page:
Others–Evadne Clapham led this school of thought–dismissed such brooding with execrations against priggishness, assurances that Trapnel would ‘grow up’. When Evadne Clapham expressed this latter presumption, Mark Membes observed that he could think of no instance of an individual who, having missed that desirable attainment at the normal stage of human development, successfully achieved it in later life. If was hard to disagree.
Another one from Anthony Powell, this time from Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant:
In the end most things in life — perhaps all things — turn out to be appropriate.
As I read it, in the sense that the events in one’s life form a narrative to which everything fits, whether by accident, by long effort, or by interpretation.
This quote is a bit tedious to those who have inexplicably formed a distaste for Dickensesque prose, but to sum it up would do it a disservice. It’s from A Buyer’s Market by Anthony Powell.
I used to imagine life divided into separate compartments, consisting, for example, of such dual abstractions as pleasure and pain, love and hate, friendship and enmity; and more material classifications like work and play: a profession or calling being, according to that concept … something entirely different from ‘spare time’. That illusion — as such a point of view was, in due course, to appear — was closely related to another belief: that existence fans out indefinitely into new areas of experience, and that almost every additional acquaintance offers some supplementary world with its own hazards and enchantments. As time goes on, of course, these supposedly different worlds, in fact, draw closer, if not to each other, then to some pattern common to all; so that, at last, diversity between them, if in truth existent, seems to be almost imperceptible except in a few crude and exterior ways: unthinkable as formerly appeared any single consummation of cause and effect. In other words, nearly all the inhabitants of these outwardly disconnected empires turn out at last to be tenaciously inter-related; love and hate, friendship and enmity, too, becoming themselves much less clearly defined, more often than not showing signs of possessing characteristics that could claim, to say the least, not a little in common; while work and play merge indistinguishably into a complex tissue of pleasure and tedium.