April 22nd, 2013

talk talk

T.S. Eliot's "Baba O'Riley." (18)

A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh.

The sequel is called
"Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?"
Beaver & Brenda.

Tony's big revenge:
"April is the Cruelest Month."
ends the trilogy.

This was Beatrice's second pick for Eleven-Books Club, after her pick Lost Memory of Skin, which I didn't read. My first impression of the book remains my thesis: this is like Wooster & Jeeves, only without the sense of humor. Oh sure, people will comment on that, saying Waugh is dry wit, wry observation but...I disagree? I mean, sure, he gets digs in...but they are just small, mean & petty? Like, the protagonists of this novel are all small, mean & petty...& Evelyn Waugh makes small, mean, petty bon mots...but Waugh created these small, mean & petty characters in the first place? Like, your snide cruelty doesn't impress me, because you were the ones who built these irredeemable people in the first place! Though honestly I'm not mad at Brenda, I think she's probably the best of the lot. Which is to say, if this had been a polite soap opera, that would have been on thing. Instead it was...I don't know, a weird condemnation of these straw man characters, with a strange ending tacked on? Which fordmadoxfraud said was the original story? With the rest of the "between the Wars decadence" as the serialization that followed, post hoc? Which is why there was the alternate ending? Anyhow, I didn't care for the prose, which is the reason people like Waugh I gather, but I will admit that it was readable. I didn't like it but I wasn't miserable. I sort of think that this is what Mad Men is like, actually. & I would have preferred it to be like Gilmore Girls instead.

The club meeting was fun; David & fatbutts & I came over from playing AD&D with a stop off for wine & dumplings. When we got here, Terra was already here, & so was littlewashu with her dog, Indiana, keeping Jennifer company. Beatrice was next, with buckets of Thai appetizers, & we were good to go. People-- David-- enjoyed the prose, & we had a fun time laughing about the weird ending: this interwar socialite novel that suddenly becomes about a journey up the Amazon river? In a way, I thought it was a funny viewpoint on some of the stuff you hear about in history class, or studying anthropology. You know, some rich aristocrat amateur who goes on an exploration & mucks it up terribly, dying at the end. This was like the fictionalized account of that! Or, my other comparison, was to the movie Romancing the Stone, when Joan Wilder finds that drug kingpin who loves her writing? What if he never let her go? Hey! It's A Handful of Dust! Anyhow, we closed out the discussion group with, well, a lot of wine, but also a talk about people who haven't shown up to club in forever. We're going to clean out the roster! We're "kicking people out" insofar as we're taking them off the invite lists, but like with Lilly, if they want to come back later, that is totally fine, we just want members who are available now, you know? Not like a moral judgement, just a practical consideration. Now maybe we'll court some new members!

green mask

Ecce Neanderthalensis. (19)

Last Ape Standing by Chip Walter.

The iPhone & the
Acheulean hand axe are
no coincidence.

I reviewed Last Ape Standing for Tor.com, but forgot to link to it, or count it in my book review round-up. There are a few other books on deck to be reviewed there that I haven't counted; my list this year is probably going to be pretty wonky, though I'm sure I'll still do a Year End Best Of round-up. Just saying, my recording of what I read isn't as immediate since I now factor in writing for Tor.com. I wrote a news post about Superman & I also wrote about a performance critical of Harry Potter called "To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang. I'm pretty happy with the fact that I'm at least conversant from an armchair anthropologist perspective. In fact, that isn't the only anthropology post I have had; I also blogged about a Scientific American article about hybrid humans just recently.