richardderus's ninth 2021 thread

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richardderus's ninth 2021 thread

Modificato: Giu 5, 10:50am

It's Pride Month!

Modificato: Giu 25, 10:46pm

I'm delighted to introduce, laddies and gentlewomen, my new spirit animal:
The Fucktopus.

In 2021, I stated a goal of posting 15 book reviews a month on my blog. This year's total of 180 (there are a lot of individual stories that don't have entries in the LT database so I didn't post them here; I need to do more to sync the data this year) reads shows it's doable, and I've done better than that in the past.

I've long Pearl Ruled books I'm not enjoying, but making notes on Goodreads & LibraryThing about why I'm abandoning the read has been less successful. I give up. I just don't care about this goal, so out it goes.

My Last Thread of 2009 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2010 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2011 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2012 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2013 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2014 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2015 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2016 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2017 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2018 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2019 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.
My Last Thread of 2020 Is Here:
Reviews are back-linked there.

First five reviews? 1st 2021 thread..

Reviews 6 all the way through 25 can be viewed in the thread to which I have posted a link at left.

The 26th through 36th reviews occupy thread three.

37th through 44th reviews belong where they are.

Reviews 45 through 58 are listed here.

Reviews 59 through 65 present themselves in that spot.

Reviews 66 through 75 reside in this thread.

Reviews 76 through 98? Seek them before this.


99 Hexhunter intrigued, post 45.

100 A Scot's Surrender pleased, post 85.

101 Highland Haunting excited, post 86.

102 Under the Udala Trees elucidated, post 90.

103 The Queer Principles of Kit Webb entertained, post 148.

104 the easiness and the loneliness shocked, post 181.

105 The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue challenged, post 198.

106 The Space Between Worlds aaalllmost delighted, post 202.

107 Nationalist Love stunned, post 211.

108 Infidels: A Novel seduced, post 229.

109 Master Class pleased, post 258.

110 Philip Sparrow Tells All titillated, post 280.

Modificato: Giu 5, 10:39am

2020's five-star or damn-near five-star reviews totaled 46. Almost half were short stories and/or series reads. While a lot of authors saw their book launches rescheduled, publishers canceled their tours, and everyone was hugely distracted by the nightmare of COVID-19 (I had it, you do not want it), no one can fault the astoundingly wonderful literature we got this year. My own annual six-stars-of-five read was Zaina Arafat's extraordinary debut novel YOU EXIST TOO MUCH (review lives here), a thirtysomething Palestinian woman telling me my life, my family, my very experience of relationships of all sorts. I cannot stress enough to you, this is the book you need to read in 2021. A sixtysomething man is here, in your email/feed, saying: This is the power. This is the glory. The writing I look for, the read I long to find, and all of it delivered in a young woman's debut novel. This is as good an omen for the Great Conjunction's power being bent to the positive outcomes as any I've seen.

In 2020, I posted over 180 reviews here. In 2021, my goals are: –to post 180 reviews on my blog
–to post at least 99 three-sentence Burgoines
–to complete at least 190 total reviews

Most important to me is to report on DRCs I don't care enough about to review at my usual level. I don't want to keep just leaving them unacknowledged. There are publishers who want to see a solid, positive relationship between DRCs granted and reviews posted, and I do not blame them a bit.

Ask and ye shall receive! Nathan Burgoine's Twitter account hath taught me. See >7 below.

Modificato: Giu 5, 10:41am

I stole this from PC's thread. I like these prompts!
1. Name any book you read at any time that was published in the year you turned 18:
Faggots by Larry Kramer
2. Name a book you have on in your TBR pile that is over 500 pages long:
The Story of China: The Epic History of a World Power from the Middle Kingdom to Mao and the China Dream by Michael Wood
3. What is the last book you read with a mostly blue cover?
Wasps' Nest by Agatha Christie
4. What is the last book you didn’t finish (and why didn’t you finish it?)
The Perfect Fascist by Victoria de Grazia; paper book of 512pp, can't hold it...hands too feeble now
5. What is the last book that scared the bejeebers out of you?
Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump
6. Name the book that read either this year or last year that takes place geographically closest to where you live? How close would you estimate it was?
The Trump book; set in Queens and the Hamptons, so just down the road a piece
7.What were the topics of the last two nonfiction books you read?
The last successful rebellion on US soil and caffeine
8. Name a recent book you read which could be considered a popular book?
The Only Good Indians, a horror novel that's really, really good
9. What was the last book you gave a rating of 5-stars to? And when did you read it?
Restored, a Regency-era romantic historical novel about men in their 40s seizing their second chance at luuuv
10. Name a book you read that led you to specifically to read another book (and what was the other book, and what was the connection)
Potiki, which Kerry Aluf gave me; led me to read The Uncle's Story by Witi Ihimaera
11. Name the author you have most recently become infatuated with.
P. Djeli Clark
12. What is the setting of the first novel you read this year?
Hawaii and PNW
13. What is the last book you read, fiction or nonfiction, that featured a war in some way (and what war was it)?
The Fighting Bunch; WWII
14. What was the last book you acquired or borrowed based on an LTer’s review or casual recommendation? And who was the LTer, if you care to say.
There isn't enough space for all the book-bullets y'all careless, inconsiderate-of-my-poverty fiends pepper me with
15. What the last book you read that involved the future in some way?
Mammoths of the Great Plains by Eleanor Arnason
16. Name the last book you read that featured a body of water, river, marsh, or significant rainfall?
Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky by David Connerley Nahm
17. What is last book you read by an author from the Southern Hemisphere?
Red Heir by Lisa Henry
18. What is the last book you read that you thought had a terrible cover?
please don't ask me this
19. Who was the most recent dead author you read? And what year did they die?
Agatha Christie, 1976
20. What was the last children’s book (not YA) you read?
good goddesses, I don't remember...Goodnight Moon to my daughter?
21. What was the name of the detective or crime-solver in the most recent crime novel you read?
Poirot by Dame Ags
22. What was the shortest book of any kind you’ve read so far this year?
The World Well Lost, ~28pp
23. Name the last book that you struggled with (and what do you think was behind the struggle?)
Lon Chaney Speaks, because I really, really don't like comic books
24. What is the most recent book you added to your library here on LT?
see #23
25. Name a book you read this year that had a visual component (i.e. illustrations, photos, art, comics)
see #23
I liked Sandy's Bonus Question for the meme above, so I adopted it:

26. What is the title and year of the oldest book you have reviewed on LT in 2020? (modification in itals)
The Sittaford Mystery by Dame Aggie, 1931.

Modificato: Giu 5, 10:38am

I really hadn't considered doing this until recently...tracking my Pulitzer Prize in Fiction winners read, and Booker Prize winners read might actually prove useful to me in planning my reading.

1918 HIS FAMILY - Ernest Poole **
1919 THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS - Booth Tarkington *
1921 THE AGE OF INNOCENCE - Edith Wharton *
1922 ALICE ADAMS - Booth Tarkington **
1923 ONE OF OURS - Willa Cather **
1924 THE ABLE MCLAUGHLINS - Margaret Wilson
1925 SO BIG - Edna Ferber *
1926 ARROWSMITH - Sinclair Lewis (Declined) *
1927 EARLY AUTUMN - Louis Bromfield
1928 THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY - Thornton Wilder *
1929 SCARLET SISTER MARY - Julia Peterkin
1930 LAUGHING BOY - Oliver Lafarge
1931 YEARS OF GRACE - Margaret Ayer Barnes
1932 THE GOOD EARTH - Pearl Buck *
1933 THE STORE - Thomas Sigismund Stribling
1934 LAMB IN HIS BOSOM - Caroline Miller
1935 NOW IN NOVEMBER - Josephine Winslow Johnson
1936 HONEY IN THE HORN - Harold L Davis
1937 GONE WITH THE WIND - Margaret Mitchell *
1938 THE LATE GEORGE APLEY - John Phillips Marquand
1939 THE YEARLING - Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings *
1940 THE GRAPES OF WRATH - John Steinbeck *
1942 IN THIS OUR LIFE - Ellen Glasgow *
1943 DRAGON'S TEETH - Upton Sinclair
1944 JOURNEY IN THE DARK - Martin Flavin
1945 A BELL FOR ADANO - John Hersey *
1947 ALL THE KING'S MEN - Robert Penn Warren *
1948 TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC - James Michener
1949 GUARD OF HONOR - James Gould Cozzens
1950 THE WAY WEST - A.B. Guthrie
1951 THE TOWN - Conrad Richter
1952 THE CAINE MUTINY - Herman Wouk
1953 THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA - Ernest Hemingway *
1955 A FABLE - William Faulkner *
1956 ANDERSONVILLE - McKinlay Kantor *
1958 A DEATH IN THE FAMILY - James Agee *
1960 ADVISE AND CONSENT - Allen Drury *
1961 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD - Harper Lee *
1962 THE EDGE OF SADNESS - Edwin O'Connor
1963 THE REIVERS - William Faulkner *
1965 THE KEEPERS OF THE HOUSE - Shirley Ann Grau
1967 THE FIXER - Bernard Malamud
1969 HOUSE MADE OF DAWN - N Scott Momaday
1972 ANGLE OF REPOSE - Wallace Stegner *
1973 THE OPTIMIST'S DAUGHTER - Eudora Welty *
1975 THE KILLER ANGELS - Jeff Shaara *
1976 HUMBOLDT'S GIFT - Saul Bellow *
1978 ELBOW ROOM - James Alan McPherson
1980 THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG - Norman Mailer *
1981 A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES - John Kennedy Toole *
1982 RABBIT IS RICH - John Updike *
1983 THE COLOR PURPLE - Alice Walker *
1984 IRONWEED - William Kennedy *
1985 FOREIGN AFFAIRS - Alison Lurie
1986 LONESOME DOVE - Larry McMurtry *
1987 A SUMMONS TO MEMPHIS - Peter Taylor
1988 BELOVED - Toni Morrison *
1991 RABBIT AT REST - John Updike *
1992 A THOUSAND ACRES - Jane Smiley *
1994 THE SHIPPING NEWS - E Annie Proulx *
1995 THE STONE DIARIES - Carol Shields
1996 INDEPENDENCE DAY - Richard Ford
1997 MARTIN DRESSLER - Steven Millhauser
1998 AMERICAN PASTORAL - Philip Roth
1999 THE HOURS - Michael Cunningham
2002 EMPIRE FALLS - Richard Russo
2003 MIDDLESEX - Jeffrey Eugenides *
2004 THE KNOWN WORLD - Edward P. Jones
2005 GILEAD - Marilynne Robinson
2006 MARCH - Geraldine Brooks
2007 THE ROAD - Cormac McCarthy
2009 OLIVE KITTERIDGE - Elizabeth Strout
2010 TINKERS - Paul Harding**
2011 A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD - Jennifer Egan
2013 ORPHAN MASTER'S SON - Adam Johnson
2014 THE GOLDFINCH - Donna Tartt
2015 ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE - Anthony Doerr **
2016 THE SYMPATHIZER - Viet Thanh Nguyen **
2017 THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD - Colson Whitehead **
2018 LESS - Andrew Sean Greer
2019 THE OVERSTORY - Richard Powers
2020 THE NICKEL BOYS - Colson Whitehead

Links are to my reviews
* Read, but not reviewed
** Owned, but not read

Modificato: Giu 5, 10:32am

Every winner of the Booker Prize since its inception in 1969

1969: P. H. Newby, Something to Answer For
1970: Bernice Rubens, The Elected Member
1970: J. G. Farrell, Troubles ** (awarded in 2010 as the Lost Man Booker Prize) -
1971: V. S. Naipaul, In a Free State
1972: John Berger, G.
1973: J. G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur
1974: Nadine Gordimer, The Conservationist ... and Stanley Middleton, Holiday
1975: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust
1976: David Storey, Saville
1977: Paul Scott, Staying On
1978: Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea *
1979: Penelope Fitzgerald, Offshore
1980: William Golding, Rites of Passage
1981: Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children *
1982: Thomas Keneally, Schindler's Ark
1983: J. M. Coetzee, Life & Times of Michael K
1984: Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac *
1985: Keri Hulme, The Bone People **
1986: Kingsley Amis, The Old Devils
1987: Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger *
1988: Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda *
1989: Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day *
1990: A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance *
1991: Ben Okri, The Famished Road
1992: Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient * ... and Barry Unsworth, Sacred Hunger
1993: Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
1994: James Kelman, How late it was, how late
1995: Pat Barker, The Ghost Road *
1996: Graham Swift, Last Orders
1997: Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
1998: Ian McEwan, Amsterdam
1999: J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace
2000: Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin *
2001: Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang *
2002: Yann Martel, Life of Pi
2003: DBC Pierre, Vernon God Little **
2004: Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty *
2005: John Banville, The Sea
2006: Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
2007: Anne Enright, The Gathering
2008: Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
2009: Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
2010: Howard Jacobson, The Finkler Question *
2011: Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending **
2012: Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
2013: Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
2014: Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
2015: Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings *
2016: Paul Beatty, The Sellout
2017: George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
2018: Anna Burns, Milkman
2019: Margaret Atwood, The Testaments, and Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other
2020: Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain

Links are to my reviews
* Read, but not reviewed
** Owned, but not read

Modificato: Giu 27, 12:19pm

Author 'Nathan Burgoine posted this simple, direct method of not getting paralyzed by the prospect of having to write reviews. The Three-Sentence Review is, as he notes, very helpful and also simple to achieve. I get completely unmanned at the idea of saying something trenchant about each book I read, when there often just isn't that much to I can use this structure to say what I think's important and not try to dig for more.

Think about using it yourselves!

Modificato: Giu 5, 10:47am

Okay to talk.

This July, the 23rd to be precise, marks twenty years since Miss Eudora Welty has left us. I'm going to make an effort to review the books of hers I've read long before there were computers, still less personal ones!

We'll see how I do....

Giu 5, 10:31am

Me, me! Happy new one.


Giu 5, 10:33am

Ooo I got in early! Happy new one, Richard!

Giu 5, 10:43am

Happy new thread, Richard dear!

Giu 5, 10:46am

Happy new thread, Richard!

xx The Auditrix

Giu 5, 10:51am

>8 richardderus: Don't forget her amazing photographs. I'll be revisiting some of her writing this summer myself. She's always been one of my fantasy dinner guest choices. As Ken Kesey said, she had class and style in everything she did.

Modificato: Giu 5, 10:57am

>9 karenmarie: Hey Horrible!


Modificato: Giu 5, 10:57am

>13 laytonwoman3rd: I won't! I love looking at them. I can't really comprehend why no book of them ever appeared before 1971.

>12 humouress: Thank you, Auditrix.

>11 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita!

>10 jessibud2: BARELY pipped for first place, Shelley, but way early nonetheless.

Giu 5, 11:37am

Happy new thread, Richard! And glad to hear on your last thread that the day is already off to a terrific start. *smooch*

Giu 5, 11:54am

Happy new one, dear fellow.

Giu 5, 12:01pm

Happy New Thread!

Giu 5, 12:05pm

>18 SilverWolf28: Thanks, Silver!

>17 PaulCranswick: Thank you most kindly, PC.

>16 MickyFine: As ways to start a day go, this one was a top-flight example for sure. I always get fantods when Nancy Pearl notices me!

Giu 5, 12:09pm

Happy New Thread, RD! Hooray for Pride Month. Not surprising, I am really enjoying Strange Pilgrims. Only 30 pages left and "Light is Like Water" is up next.

Giu 5, 12:39pm

>20 msf59: Thank you, Mark! Oh my...I do hope it's a good read for you.

Giu 5, 12:54pm

Happy new thread, RD! A bit warm today but I have nothing I have to do outside so what do I care?


Giu 5, 12:58pm

>22 katiekrug: My sentiments exactly. I am resolved to remain safely ensconced in the a/c.

I just commented on the Bitol menu chez vous...that place looks like it's a-gonna taste fabulous!

Giu 5, 1:26pm

Happy new thread, sir.
Hoping Saturday lived up to its initial promise.
I had a trip to the monthly farmer's market (where it is possible I bought cake to support a local business - like you do), some gardening and a trip to the garden centre.

Giu 5, 2:52pm

>24 Helenliz: A hiccup in the lovely: Rob can't come see me today, boohiss, but he's actually quite wise...they offered him some tasty rewards for coming in today.

A cake! Oh drool...what kind might you have bought?

Giu 5, 3:47pm

Happy new thread!

Giu 5, 4:00pm

Happy new thread! Happy Pride (Should-Be-Year) Month!

Giu 5, 4:10pm

Happy new thread Richard, my dear fellow.

Giu 5, 4:45pm

>25 richardderus: a slab of rocky road type thingy, which was sticky and quite yum. And might have been entirely unnecessary. As all the best things are.

Giu 5, 4:54pm

>29 Helenliz: Huh! Imagine describing something brownie-esque as "entirely unnecessary"! I had no idea you were a Calvinist.

>28 johnsimpson: Thank you, John!

>27 Storeetllr: Hi Mary! Thank's Pride Life for most of us nowadays. But a celebration never comes amiss.

>26 quondame: Ooooo cool glass art! Thanks, Susan.

Giu 5, 8:47pm

Happy new thread and Saturday *smooches*

Giu 5, 10:16pm

Happy new thread!

Giu 5, 10:26pm

Happy new thread, my dear.

Giu 5, 10:35pm

>33 ronincats: Thank you, Roni.

>32 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori!

>31 bell7: Happy Sunday, shortly anyway, and *smooch* back!

Modificato: Giu 6, 6:21am

Sunday tidings to you. We celebrate el Queeno's birthday tomorrow so, as subjects, are granted a royal day off. Yippee, God Save the Queen etc. I hope your Monday is as gratuitous as mine will be :)

Eta, saw on London's thread that, gulp- you are going to be a G-grandad! That's a milestone for ya! Congrats :)

Giu 6, 9:18am

>35 LovingLit: Yes, early parenthood appears to be a heritable trait. *sigh*

Well, babies get born and need love, and that seems to be the way stuff works here too. They're very happy.

Say a jolly "eff off" to Betty for me, the Rebellious Colonial Peasant.

Giu 6, 9:33am

>35 LovingLit: Good old Queen Betty bestowing public holidays across the continents incontinently.

It is a shame that the Great great great great Granda wasn't keen on giving the Yankees the vote or tax free tealeaves.

Giu 6, 9:50am

>35 LovingLit: we don't get a day off for her pretend birthday, it's always a saturday. *humph*

>30 richardderus: I like cake. Which is evidenced by the fact I've only got 2 pairs of trousers I can currently fit my lardy arse into. Lockdown 3 has not been kind...

Giu 6, 10:16am

>38 Helenliz: Cake is good too...brownies, or in my case blondies, are even better:

As to the Pandemic Spread, note that the noun is readily verbed and thus applies, um, widely.


>37 PaulCranswick: I've always suspected it was more the reactionary Parliamentarians who were responsible for the troubles between King and Colony...

Giu 6, 10:19am

Cake? Is there cake on offer? Yes please!

Giu 6, 10:34am

>40 humouress: The calorie-free virtual kind...he'p yo'sef

Giu 6, 11:02am

Hiya, RDear. Happy Sunday to you.

>39 richardderus: I'm tempted to make my sister's Butterscotch Brownies...

Giu 6, 11:16am

Oooo! New thread.

Eudora Welty.


Glad I stopped by.

Giu 6, 12:30pm

I really enjoyed "Light is Like Water". The only issue I had was that it is far too short. Only a few pages. More, please...

Giu 6, 1:43pm

99 Hexhunter by Jordan L. Hawk

Rating: 4.75* of five


My Review
: First, read this:
Nothing seemed odd about the figure itself, other than depicting the Holy Familiar. Which, yes, this was a Belfastian institution, but he still would’ve expected Saint Jerome, patron of orphans.
“Denying a part of yourself is never a good thing. Familiars who stay too long in animal shape start to forget they were ever human, and those who stay human forget they were ever an animal. They lose half of themselves either way.”
"It’s significant because it revealed details of a civilization known to us only through the tales of the Greeks, tales recorded long after the Minoans—the ancient inhabitants of Crete, that is—vanished. There are many interesting points irrelevant to tonight’s discussion, but one of the things claimed by the legends—and supported by the excavations—is that the royal family were all familiars.”

If you've followed me long enough, you know that I'm an old fan of Author Hawk's Whyborne & Griffin Lovecraftian-horror series. I'm a sucker for expanding the Cthulhu Mythos in ways that would appall and repulse Lovecraft! And I'm always down for some good, old-fashioned men-shaggin'-men action.

On screen or off. *leer*

Since these reviews are the least commented-upon when I post them here, those inclined to can read the whole review on my blog: Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

Giu 6, 1:48pm

>44 msf59: It's one of those delectable ideas, indeed. I'm so glad you liked it! But think...where could he have gone with the premise that wouldn't have disappointed you? It's a short, beguiling read, but I think it would've fallen apart at greater length.

>43 weird_O: Cake and new thread goodness are yours to share, Bill. Come by anytime.

>42 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible! I'd make them blondies if I was you...nothing should get in your way.


Giu 6, 2:15pm

Great-Grandpa here has just today posted his 99th review of 2021!


I should hit my goal of 190 this year easy if I can keep up this pace.

Now back to finish the one for tomorrow....

Giu 6, 6:06pm

>38 Helenliz: Queenie was actually born on April 21, but we commemorate it on the first Monday in June.

Giu 6, 6:38pm

>48 LovingLit: The Queen's Birthday needs to be a holiday because...?

Anyway, Harry and Meghan named their second sprog "Lilibet" after Granny's childhood nickname.

I am *assaulted* with Harry-n-Megan news by my Twitterfriends. *shrug*

Modificato: Giu 6, 6:59pm

Hiya RD. You look in fine form. I liked the sentiment in the topper.
I've been lurking on the previous thread but rarely commenting. The thought processes seem daunted (by lacunae, you know), right? Have a great swirl through to #100 in your reviews.

PS. >4 richardderus: I'm pleased you've enjoyed making use of the bonus question. I should hunt out an old book around here, with an interesting cover. It will inspire me to post something since I seem to be sleeping more than reading!

Giu 6, 7:25pm

>50 SandyAMcPherson: Hi Sandy! Don't let a little thing like not having anything to say stop you from wandering through and saying it. Goodness knows I don't.

Thanks for the kind words, and review #100 will be Tuesday...I was aiming for tomorrow and got sidelined by a few time-sensitive tasks. Same as it ever was, I guess.


Giu 6, 8:19pm

I spend a coupla days off LT, come back, and your new thread has 51 messages. *sigh*

Happy new one!

Giu 6, 8:55pm

>47 richardderus: Congrats on 99 reviews!

And on great grandfathering. :-D I really loved the picture you shared on your last thread, and wish your kin well on their new adventure.

Giu 6, 9:54pm

I totally believe this would make the owner rich as Croesus in mere moments

Giu 6, 10:07pm

>53 London_StJ: Thank you most kindly, my dear crypto-daughter. I'm just so pleased about my pace this year that I had to brag a bit.

GREAT-grandfather *eep* is just a bit more than I was expecting while I'm still's sinking in slowly....

>52 drneutron: ...a few days...? Jim, this thread's almost a month old! Are...are you feeling, um, yourself since your last birthday?

*cue theme from Gaslight*

Giu 7, 7:29am

Hiya RD! Happy Monday to you.


Giu 7, 9:44am

>1 richardderus: Yes!

>26 quondame: Stained glass - what a great idea.

Happy New thread! Even if I was a bit slow getting here.

I think you might appreciate the cleverness and truth of Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. Asian stereotyping spoofed and explored via a cop show(!) Ellen and Mark recommended it to me.

Giu 7, 9:56am

Welp, it's Monday again. And hot. I want a refund.


Giu 7, 10:14am

>58 katiekrug: They're still processing my request for return on The World, 2016-2021. Might could be a while.


>57 jnwelch: You're here, so I'm good with it, Joe...though I had *such* a horrible experience with How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe that I'm inclined to smile, nod, and pass hastily by that suggestion.

>56 karenmarie: *smooch* Hot and sunny...midweek was cold and dank.

Mother Nature's having The Change and these hot flashes are NO FUN.

Giu 7, 10:42am

>48 LovingLit: I know. Her ceremonial birthday is next weekend, it's always 2nd Saturday in June in the UK. No day off for us.

Monday has been hot* and busy busy busy.

*hot being a relative term. hot for us.

Giu 7, 11:00am

>60 Helenliz: Well, relatively hot is still hot, Helen. None of us has a thing to grouse about compared to people in Riyadh. Or Bangalore. Or Kuala Lumpur.

Of course one can argue that they did it to themselves, moving there...but still, heat ain't fun for me and thee so let's get it off our collective chest.

Giu 7, 2:02pm

Holy cats indeed! They are a bit young, that's true, but to be a great-grandpa (or g-pawpaw) is an amazing thing.

Happy Monday! Have a great week!

Giu 7, 3:19pm

>62 Storeetllr: Thank you, Mary! It's going to get cooler by Wed-Thu so at least we won't swelter too badly for too long.

Giu 7, 4:35pm

My goddesses, Rob is a source of surprise and pleasure even when he isn't physically here! He knew I had a shopping-cart full at the University of Chicago Press sale that's over in a few he went & paid for these as my "Happy Pride" present!

Giu 7, 5:04pm

>64 richardderus: Aww. Such a sweet man.

Giu 7, 5:09pm

>65 MickyFine: Ha! I just mentioned it on your thread!

Giu 7, 5:10pm

>64 richardderus: >:-D What a star!! Enjoy the latest additions to the library.

Giu 7, 5:21pm

>64 richardderus: What a darling man! Enjoy! (The books AND the man. Heh.)

Giu 7, 5:25pm

>68 Storeetllr: *smirk* That's the plan....


>67 Helenliz: I am so so delighted. Could not be more surprised, either. He gets major points for this one!

Giu 7, 5:51pm

>64 richardderus: That is a true friend, the best :-)

Giu 7, 5:53pm

>64 richardderus:

^Rob sure seems like a perfect guy. Hooray for the YGC! Are a couple of these titles, GNs?

Giu 7, 5:53pm

Surprises are always the best! Books are always great, however and whenever, but the surprise of them, especially when you are least expecting it, well... :-)


Giu 7, 6:22pm

>72 jessibud2: It was very delightfully heartwarming, Shelley, and so typical of him. Listening to me weigh up which ones should go, why this one was better than that, and saying "mm hm" and "ooohhh good point" while quietly filling in his card details.

Lovely surprise.

>71 msf59: IF he didn't live an hour away by train and could actually drive worth a damn so I wouldn't get panicky every time I know he's on the road....

...but yeah, pretty close to it.

>70 FAMeulstee: I so agree, Anita, I'm very grateful to him and for him.

Giu 7, 6:40pm

>64 richardderus: Indeed a thoughtful surprise, RD. I have plenty of Powell but What's Become of Waring? is one I haven't seen in the stores for a heck of a time - his non-Dance to the Music of Time books are not that easy to come by these days.

Giu 7, 7:26pm

Nice haul!

Giu 7, 7:43pm

>75 drneutron: Isn't it? I'd've been pleased with only the minerals book, or the Anthony Powells, or just the Bensons, and even just with 28 June! But all of them, well, it was a major treat indeed.

>74 PaulCranswick: The Powell catalog is appearing through Chicago's imprint in the US, PC, so permaybehaps you can get them via Thriftbooks...? They're going through a sale cycle just now, and those two paperbacks were $7.70 each.

Giu 7, 9:07pm

Awww what a great gift from Rob! I have now been thoroughly spoiled by my sister's AC and have been melting in the heat this afternoon. The windows are open to hopefully cool things down enough to sleep tonight.

Giu 7, 9:38pm

>77 bell7: He's really a treasure of a man. Plus he's kind of amazing about reading...likes it as much as we all do!

Don't melt...and start looking into a/c solutions now!

Giu 8, 1:50am

What a perfectly lovely gift from Rob to show you he sees you and thinks of you.

Giu 8, 8:58am

‘Morning, RDear.

>64 richardderus: Good for Rob! He’s definitely a keeper.

Sigh. You’re dangerous. In a good way. 😊 I just ordered 11 books from the U of Chicago Press sale.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Giu 8, 9:28am

Sweet, sweet Rob! What a fantastic surprise.

Giu 8, 10:32am

>81 katiekrug: I know, right?! I get all heart-eyes every time I look at the stack. *happy sigh*

>80 karenmarie: My dear, my dear! You limited yourself to eleven! I know your shelf-space is huge compared to mine, but only eleven? Superhuman restraint.

He's a peach of a person, indeed. *smooch*

>79 quondame: It's really that, Susan, it's the seen-ness and the "I know you want this and I can give it to you, so here it is" quality that makes his surprise so lovely and so welcome.

Giu 8, 10:43am

Great book haul thanks to a sweet guy, Richard. That must make it awfully hard to be grumpy. I sympathize.

I just started another one you recommended, Dictionary of Lost Words, and I'm liking it.

Giu 8, 11:04am

My delight in this news is genuine and gigantic! The Fractured Europe Sequence will be on your TV before too terribly long! I'm so delighted for Dave, who's a genuinely nice guy, and grateful for the Peak-TV age.

Now who will decide to air it...I just hope it's not Mauschwitz or the Half-bit Fruit blackguards.

Giu 8, 11:09am

100 A Scot's Surrender by Lily Maxton

Rating: 4.5* of five

First, read this:
“You’re too kind,” Ian said eventually. Most people would mean that statement as a compliment. Ian didn’t.

Townsend huffed. “I’m too kind?”

“People take advantage of kindness.”

He smiled suddenly. “I’m kind but crafty…the perfect combination. Don’t worry on my account.”
The Highlander was, in true contrary fashion, one of those people who were at their best in the morning—his face was alert, gray eyes sharp and observant. He’d probably bounded out of bed at dawn and wrestled a few sheep.
Robert didn’t dislike cats, but he’d always been more of a dog person himself—one knew where one stood with a dog. They didn’t stare at a person with those unreadable, impassive eyes. With cats, it was impossible to tell if they liked you or if they might be plotting your murder.

Here's what you need to know: These aren't striplings falling in love for the first time, these are men whose different stations in life and similar sexual natures keep them from being best friends immediately, from trusting each other's honesty until the bitter end, and from rushing into any kind of relationship at all. So: slow burn, learning to love, and enough baggage for the whole of steerage on the Titanic.

The set-up in the synopsis above gets you most of the way to the plot. There are details you'll enjoy discovering on your own...the focus of the book is less on the action than on the actors and their motivations, their learning, their expanding circle of trust and respect for each other. Ian, as a very senior servant, shouldn't take a snarky 'tude with his boss's little brother but he is righteously annoyed that there's a spoiled useless idler set in nominal authority over his omnicompetent self. Robert is a pleaser, a fixer, and wants only to make sure everything goes smoothly and everyone is happy as larry or it is All His Fault.

The hijinks that ensue are the result of some truly shady events that occur when strangers call. The men are suddenly perforce a team, and they're amazed at how soon they come to like it:
He could admit Robert Townsend was as handsome as the devil, and he had a voice to match, deep and dark and smooth and curled with smoke at the edges.
And thus, it was official—he was ridiculously besotted. He would have to be to think of poetry at odd, random moments, and it was always Elizabethan poetry, too.

These are men whose lives haven't led them to trust things that come easy. Ian's family...well, least said, soonest mended, and if I told you then you'd refuse to read the book, and really you need to. We are all as Heaven made us, as that Confucian ikon Dee Goong An says in one of Robert van Gulik's lovely stories about him; the judge refers to that series' only encounter with a gay couple. That was daring stuff in the 1950s, and it reflected accurately how Confucian thought deals with men who love men: Weird, but hardly their fault. If only that was the attitude of certain Georgian Scots.

Robert's not...well, he's a luckier if less assured soul than Ian is. He's just about never been honest with anyone, as a means of protecting his inner squishy bits. He writes successful silly mystery stories and makes a decent living at it. You can imagine what the hearty Scot thinks of Temperament, nor is Robert inclined to make allowances for Scottish Temper:
It was a battlefield…of parchment and quills and books. Ian couldn’t even see the actual desk. Everywhere, sheets of foolscap covered in a slanted scrawl were stacked or strewn about. Books, both open and closed, took up any space the foolscap had left. And teetering precariously close to a corner was an intricate silver-topped inkwell and an open cedarwood box that contained no fewer than ten quills.
“I’m not inclined to stand around while you hurl verbal abuse at me. If I did something that bothered you, find those words you keep buried in the depths of your prickly soul and tell me. Until then, we have more important matters at hand.”

But they are learning...learning to love, to trust, and to be as vulnerable as those activites (properly done) require a man to be.
Ian pulled him like the tide, inexorably, out into the night.
Why did touching Robert make him feel like he’d flown too close to the sun and somehow emerged on fire but alive?

They're in a category romance. They're gettin' a Happily Ever After. And it makes me very happy that I read this entry in the series, allowed myself to be steered gently by the story's currents, when I reached port:
Love was a force to be reckoned with. It wasn’t a thing to be taken lightly, or toyed with, or revoked at a whim. Its presence was felt, and its dearth. Always, always, the lack of it was missed. Love made all the difference in the world.

Giu 8, 11:13am

101 Highland Haunting by Lily Maxton

Rating: 4.5* of five

Highland Haunting is 16,000 words and features the main characters from A Scot's Surrender

First, read this:
“All right. I’m sorry. I didn’t think you were superstitious.”

“I’m not.”

“But you believe in ghosts? You think you saw one?”

Ian nodded, as if there was nothing wrong with the logic of not being superstitious but believing in otherworldly beings.

That is, right there, the entire purpose of this story. Set at Halloween, Ian's culture's night when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest and most permeable but when Robert's culture is beginning its steep downgrade of that into a brummagem and tawdry schlockfest like we have now. That means...this being a Scottish castle at the beginning of Winter...Gothic Atmosphere for days! And Author Maxton's going to make every allowable use of it, too. A ghostie with a tragic love story between ancestors, or bygone relatives anyway, of Ian Cameron and Robert Townsend; an old blood debt that must be paid; and the fact of these men's love, their sexual and spiritual wholeness in relationship to each other, being the medium to pay, repay, and pay forward the bond they each cherish and maintain.
“She was in this room. She was locked in, I think… She kept telling me to let her out.” He knew how strange it sounded. He also knew it was true.

Ian moved toward him, touched his waist. “Are ye all right?”

Robert wanted to sink into the touch, but he didn’t let himself. It wasn’t because Georgina was there, it was because he hadn’t believed Ian at first. Ian must have felt this way, too, this bone-deep unease, this sense of wrongness, and Robert had laughed.
“There’s a difference between coddling and cuddling.”

“This isna cuddling.”

“Then what is it?”

“Necessary. Like breathing.”

Ian had once accused Robert of saying things Ian didn’t know how to protect himself against. Now that they’d been together longer, it was the other way around. Ian’s words were simple, but they were pointed, and they cut—a knife through flesh and blood and bone—straight to the heart.

This short work does more in its under-seventy pages than many a modernist novel does in hundreds. The fact is that being in love with and lusting after someone is not enough to buid a solid, lasting relationship on; birthday parties aren't the models for quotidian living. Robert and Ian are aware of that now, where before they were besotted by the pretty wrapping paper and the party clothes. Having faced a brace of ghosts down and paid a spirit-debt to their dead forebears together, and having done so against some pretty steep odds, they are on a firm footing that bids fair to hold them up while they build their lover's retreat from the world into a roomy, finely furnished, comfortable, and durable home for their ever-beating hearts.
It was an odd thing, to be secure in someone else’s love. To have that space, that feeling, be inviolable. It was changeable maybe, because nothing remained unchanged, but it would grow and change with them. Its roots were deep, like that centuries old hawthorn tree, profound and unshakable, no matter how much it weathered. That was simply who Robert was, and who they were, together.

Giu 8, 11:20am

>83 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe, I'm really amazed that he wants to be in my orbit as much as he obviously does. That *really* makes bad moods hard to justify!

Yay for Dictionary of Lost Words! I really enjoyed the read so much. I hope it affects you similarly.

Giu 8, 3:47pm

It isn't that I *mind* getting surprise books in the mail, it's just that I would like to say my thank-yous, whoever sent this to me, THANK YOU!!

Giu 9, 7:29am

Hiya, RD!

>88 richardderus: Alas, wasn't me, but how delicious to get an unexpected book in the mail.

Another day, another dollar..... wait. I'm not doing that anymore. Another day, another book. I hope you will be book-ing today, too.


Giu 9, 9:39am

102 Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

JUNE 2021 NEWS! $2.99 on Kindle!

Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Inspired by Nigeria's folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls.

When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.

As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti's political coming of age, Okparanta's Under the Udala Trees uses one woman's lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.


My Review
: First, read this:
It was 1967 when the war barged in and installed itself all over the place.
Maybe love was some combination of friendship and infatuation. A deeply felt affection accompanied by a certain sort of awe. And by gratitude. And by a desire for a lifetime of togetherness.
Also, what if Adam and Ever were merely symbols of companionship? And Eve, different from him, woman instead of man, was simply a tool by which God noted that companionship was something you got from a person outside yourself? What if that's all it was? And why not?

Why not indeed...perhaps the most trenchant read of 2021, this one. Nigeria's "cracked down" on Twitter for disrespecting its dictator's trumpian "right" to spread lies with impunity; the plight of my QUILTBAG brothers and sisters is not getting one tiny smidge easier or safer there; and this is the story of two girls, too young by US standards to know anything about sex or sexuality, who fall deeply in love and desire a lifetime of companionship together. It's appalling to many that girls of twelve are having sex, still less with each other. I shake my head when I see the well-intentioned clucking and condemnation. You were thinking about sex at twelve, too, and denying it merely makes you a liar. The war-torn world these children live in merely makes knowledge of the subject fortunate if it's only theoretical and not experiential.

After the Biafran civil war opens up the ghastly wounds inflicted on the several pre-colonial states that now make up Nigeria, Ijeoma has every right to be a bit bemused that her mama is more focused on her daughter's sexuality to the exclusion of all else:
“You'll marry your studies? Marry your books? You already have one degree but you want another. You'll marry your degrees?”
And now she began muttering to herself. "God , who created you, must have known what He did."
After a moment I realized that I did know why. The reason was suddenly obvious to me.

I said, “Actually, Mama, yes, I do see why. The men offered up the women because they were cowards and the worst kind of men possible. What kind of men offer up their daughters and wives to be raped in place of themselves?”

Mama stared wide-eyed at me, then, very calmly, she said, “Ijeoma, you’re missing the point.”

“What point?”

“Don’t you see? If the men had offered themselves, it would have been an abomination. They offered up the girls so that things would be as God intended: man and woman instead of man and man. Do you see now?”

A headache was rising in my temples. My heart was racing from bewilderment at what Mama was saying. It was the same thing she had said with the story of Lot. It was as if she were obsessed with this issue of abomination. How could she really believe that that was the lesson to be taken out of this horrible story? What about all the violence and all the rape? Surely she realized that the story was even more complex than just violence and rape. To me, the story didn’t make sense.

There is no hope for someone who thinks their god is so vile and lost to morality that rape of any kind is acceptable; that sex is sinful when it isn't {pick their preferred act}; that religion is anything other than a horrible, cruel con game:
Man and wife, the Bible said. It was a nice thought, but only in the limited way that theoretical things often are.
There are no miracles these days. Manna will not fall from the sky. Bombs, yes, enough to pierce our hearts, but manna, no.
I wondered about the Bible as a whole. Maybe the entire thing was just a history of a certain culture, specific to that particular time and place, which made it hard for us now to understand, and which maybe even made it not applicable for us today. Like Exodus. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk. Deuteronomy said it too. But what did it mean? What did it mean back then? Was the boiling of the young goat in its mother’s milk a metaphor for insensitivity, for coldness of heart? Or did it refer to some ancient ritual that nobody performed anymore? But still, there it was in the Bible, open to whatever meaning people decided to give to it.

Once education opens a person's eyes...

All in all, a read of great and timely importance. The plight of the young women is only the beginning of the story we're told, however, so don't think this is a YA navel-gazer. This is both a strength...I don't want to spend an entire book trapped with a teenager or a tween...and a weakness, because the story veers into some well-trodden paths about man = abusive asshole and woman = patient sufferer that I find very insulting to both men and women. Even though Ijeoma does not present herself as a *willing* victim, she does say, “I had become a little like a coffin: I felt a hollowness in me and a rattling at my seams,” and “Suddenly she could see her future in the relationship: a lifetime of feeling like an afterthought.” It isn't as though no one's ever said that before, and honestly if it had been a man saying it I'd've been only a scoche more interested.

That said, though, there's a reason I've given the read four stars out of five. It is a tremendously involving tale, though I frankly don't see how it's related to any folktales...not that I'd know this from having encountered Igbo folktales but rather from the relentless quotidian nature of the story. I was not as fully engaged in the story after Amina disappears from it. But I was always keenly aware of the need for this story, these women's story, to be in the world. I hope you're even now clicking on the non-affiliate Amazon link to get the $2.99 Kindle edition and spend a luxurious weekend's afternoon enjoying it.

Giu 9, 9:47am

Great review! As I said on my thread, I have this on my Kindle. I'll move it up my mental Read Soon! queue.

Giu 9, 9:58am

>89 karenmarie: It was indeed delicious, and the mystery is also fun to unpick...none of the usual suspects are 'fessin' up!

I'm review-writing...see below, and the notes I got on The Queer Principles of Kit Webb made me re-think that'un so I might push it off a bit. Too bad...I wanted it to be the wrap-up to my blogging of reviews of Cat Sebastian's other gay-guy books.

We'll see. *smooch*

Modificato: Giu 9, 10:03am

>91 katiekrug: Hey Katie! I am delighted that I could affect your schedule so positively! I expect you'll enjoy it...the bits about the Biafran War are very, very interesting.


Giu 9, 1:53pm

>59 richardderus: I’m actually a great-great aunt, which makes me feel very old. I was a great-aunt in my early thirties.

Giu 9, 4:07pm

>94 SandDune: Good heavens, Rhian, how much older is your sibling?! I was, actually, a grandfather before I was a great-uncle. So my sisters simply ignore all my descendants' existences.

To be fair, they don't really have much interest in my existence, either.

Modificato: Giu 9, 4:58pm

Excellent review of Under the Udala Trees. I am gonna grab that Kindle special...DONE!!

Giu 9, 6:22pm

>96 msf59: Oh no, Mondays used to require a bucket!

Giu 9, 6:45pm

>97 quondame:, >96 msf59: I think the order's reversed, though the concept is sound.

>96 msf59: Hope you'll enjoy it when you get around to it, Mark.

Giu 9, 6:54pm

Hiya, Richard, also no idea where the mystery book came from, but hope you enjoy it!

I just heard about a couple of upcoming queer romance titles you may want to put on your radar: I'm So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson and Never Been Kissed by Timothy Janovsky.

Giu 9, 7:07pm

>1 richardderus: YES!
We had a really nice thing happen the other day. We have our Pride flag flying, we put it up for the entire month. Our neighbor, whom we honestly have only talked with a couple of times (we've interacted more with his wife and kids re occasional cat care), came rushing over the other day when P was outside in the yard. He said "I have been wanting to catch you to say 'Happy Pride Month!'" Who knew??? P was so pleased. Adjusting to a community in which we feel not so much threatened as invisible has been one difficult aspect of the move from Indigo Blue Seattle to pinkish-sort-of-pale-blue Pullman.

Immediately going to snag a copy of Under the Udala Trees. Your review is compelling. It actually made my heart rate go up a wee bit.

Giu 9, 7:59pm

>100 EBT1002: That flag story is amazing! I'd've been braced for trouble fer sher.

I hope Under the Udala Trees gives you as much reading pleasure as it did me!

>99 bell7: Ooo! Thank you for the titles, I shall see about procurement as soon as possible.

Lovely time at the Edelweiss fest, then?

Giu 9, 8:01pm

>101 richardderus: my TBR is groaning and I have enough ARCs to read all summer. So... Yes! It was a lot of fun and I can't wait to share titles with my patrons in the fall (most, not all, will be published September-November).

Giu 10, 2:39am

>62 Storeetllr: Yay for Rob! That was very thoughtful.

>88 richardderus: Well, I can't sneak in and claim it - you would have noticed the hefty postage from Singapore if it had been me. Very nice of whoever it was.

>100 EBT1002: That was nice of your neighbour.
(Head hurts - your red falls to the right of centre, correct? It's been too long since your elections for me to keep track.) But I'd say invisible is better than threatened.

Giu 10, 2:46am

Happy Thursday, Richard dear!

Giu 10, 5:12am

>95 richardderus: My sister is 14 years older than me and she had her first son when she was 20 so I was 6. And his son (my great-nephew) was born when I was about 29 or 30. And his daughter (my great-great niece) was born a couple of years ago.

Giu 10, 10:00am

>105 SandDune: Oooh, yes, that makes it all make sense. Quite a gap, indeed.

>104 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita, and to you.

>103 humouress: I wasn't e ven dreaming that you (or PC or our other Asian correspondents) would consider procuring a very, very American true-crime book about anti-gay violence. It would, um, raise Official Eyebrows, you know it would.

Red is now, since 1980 and Reagan, the Repulsivecan color.

>102 bell7: Conferences like that are always awash in DRCs and merch. It's one of the few ways publishers can get librarians' attention!

Giu 10, 10:08am

>64 richardderus: Lucky you. Yes, so very thoughtful.

I'm way behind but did skim through here. All looks peachy,huh?

Giu 10, 10:14am

>107 SandyAMcPherson: Well, except for the renal failure and the glioblastoma, yeah it really is!


Giu 10, 10:19am

>108 richardderus: renal failure and the glioblastoma? OMG. That's something I missed noticing. I am sorry to hear such issues afflicted you. I had to look up 'glioblastoma'. Are you serious? Scary.

Giu 10, 10:49am

>109 SandyAMcPherson: Of *course* not! I couldn't be less serious, just winding you up since you admitted you skimmed the thread. I am what a British ex of mine called "a wind-up merchant" and my stepmother called "an instigator."


Giu 10, 11:06am

>110 richardderus: you made me panic then too as I skimmed to catch up. Naughty!

Also, many bonus points to YGC.

Giu 10, 11:12am

Giu 10, 11:58am

>112 humouress: I ain't lettin' those dirtbags have it to themselves, either, since I love red's many shades.

>111 BekkaJo: Heh. Well then, skim slower! Or, as we used to call slow skimming, "read."


Giu 10, 12:22pm

Hiya RD. Happy today.


Giu 10, 12:30pm

Hey Horrible! *smooch*

It's cooled off, thank the weather goddess, and it's somehow managed to get even busier on my reading front. I'm pretty pleased with the trend of my review for The Queer Principles of Kit Webb. It'll be a week later than I wanted it to be, though, because apparently mentioning certain things is not a good idea...sensitivity readers are very interesting to me, the blundering old bull in this modern china shop.

Giu 10, 5:16pm

>108 richardderus: >110 richardderus: And a heart attack for those of us with short memories - the idea of having to scan back 100+ comments to find the first mention of those conditions is frightening.

Giu 10, 5:33pm

>116 quondame: I honestly can't begin to imagine someone would simply *forget* glioblastoma! It's one of those "say your goodbyes" diseases...memorable, I should think.

Nope, no imminently fatal things in my corpus so it should not be turning into a corpse any time soon.

Giu 10, 6:41pm

>111 BekkaJo:, >116 quondame: He *was* a bad boy, winding us up, huh?
Let's see what we can do about that ...

Giu 10, 6:47pm

Not to be a party pooper, but glioblastoma is a horrific disease. I colleague of mine died of it last year. Less than a year from diagnosis to death. And she had just retired. Horrible, just horrible. :-(

Giu 10, 7:44pm

>119 jessibud2:, >118 SandyAMcPherson: It is a terrible disease. I'm super-grateful I don't have it!

Giu 10, 8:25pm

>117 richardderus: While I am an epic class forgetter you're right that I would be unlikely to forget that - if I had read it in the first place and not caught it in the horrified comments.

Giu 10, 9:46pm

>121 quondame: I am completely sure of that! There's forgetful, then there's epically're not that.

Giu 10, 10:18pm

>122 richardderus: Not epically. Just colossally or is it jumbo - I forget the order of olive sizes.

Giu 11, 3:24am

Happy Friday RD *smooch*

Giu 11, 8:17am

Good morning, RDear. Happy Friday to you. My order is still being picked. I am impatient. Amazon has completely spoiled me. I must remind myself that Anticipation is half the pleasure. Harrumph.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Giu 11, 9:55am

>125 karenmarie: Since I didn't order the UChicago books myself, I didn't have any impatient waiting to do. I'm even more grateful to him that he just did it and didn't say anything!

Happy Friday! *smooch*

>124 BekkaJo: Hi Bekka! *smooch* Spend a splendid weekend.

>123 quondame: I knew that once,'s nowhere to be found anymore, though.

Modificato: Giu 11, 11:57am

Thanks for that very helpful Three Sentence Review, Richard! I often fail to promptly review books, as I often try to write as comprehensive and as perfect a review as I can, and this will help me to write shorter ones on a more timely basis. I just saved that image to my laptop's desktop, for future reference.

Giu 11, 12:26pm

>127 kidzdoc: Excellent, Darryl! That's exactly what I was looking for when I found it, so I'm very pleased someone else will benefit from it.

Happy to have you visit! Come back any time.

Giu 11, 7:28pm

Happy Friday, Richard. I did get out for a solo bird jaunt this morning. A few cool birds, including a scarlet tanager. I finally finished The Fortress of Solitude. It wore me out but there is a very good book buried in there.

Giu 11, 7:50pm

>129 msf59: Big book, huh. It's always a bit frustrating to know there's a better book buried inside a good one.

Happy that your day included a scarlet tanager! Makes it a good day indeed.

Giu 12, 5:31am

Giu 12, 5:34am

I've been getting subtle hints from your direction, Richard, that I've been slacking in the supervillainy department.

Giu 12, 7:29am

'Morning, RDear! Happy Saturday to you.


Giu 12, 10:13am

>133 karenmarie: Hey Horrible, happy Saturday! *smooch*

>132 humouress:, >131 humouress: Once is enough to prove your supervillainy is a viable strain, though. Cat images are too vile to overuse. That one's pretty spot-on, in fact.

Giu 12, 9:32pm

>117 richardderus: Ricardo--That's not playing nice, causing needless panic about your non-existent glioblastoma.
You are a pueri crabbittus (or pravus, or corruptus, or intelligantur, take your pick, LOL) indeed!!

>131 humouress: You get him, girlfriend!!

Giu 13, 3:54am

Happy Sunday, Richard dear!

Enjoying a second cool day, before summer heat is going to strike later this week.

My nephew visited us yesterday, it was good, although a bit tiring. I am not used anymore to have others around, Covid has turned me more into a hermit. Sadly his marriage is breaking apart, and they have two little sons. Thankful they live in the Netherlands now, as they lived in Brasil, and came back just before Covid. He has big plans to save the world from climate change, it was lovely to hear an optimistic view. I think he is capable to accomplish (at least part) of his ambitious plans :-)

Giu 13, 10:35am

>136 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita, and thanks for the well-wishes. I'm glad your nephew is in the Netherlands as he goes through this crisis. His support systems are bound to be better while he's there.

I hope his climate-changing plans can take effect soon! Hoping your rest and recovery will take effect soon, too.

>135 Berly: I? A puer crabbittus? Why I should hope to kiss a pig! I've spent over sixty years practicing!


Giu 13, 10:47am

'Morning, RDear. Happy Sunday to you.

Lazy day here in Hengeveld-ville, drinking coffee, hanging out on LT, and reading 39/47 of the Nero Wolfe books, Trio for Blunt Instruments.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Giu 13, 11:19am

>138 karenmarie: Hey there Horrible! Happy lazy Sunday!

I'm not doing one damned thing today, I simply do not feel up to it. *smooch*

Giu 13, 11:29am

>138 karenmarie: One of my very favorite short story Nero Wolfe adventures Murder is Corny

We always see Archie as more or less mated to Lily Rowan but clearly sometimes he dates other women

Giu 13, 1:11pm

>135 Berly: *simper*

Giu 13, 2:28pm

>137 richardderus: It means you are a bad boy!! But then we all knew that. : ) Smooch.

Giu 13, 9:14pm

Hot and dry here. Tomato-growing season. Or at least the plants.
The crows (I think they're the culprits) ate all my bean seeds right out of the ground. The buggers. I replanted them ('cause we love green beans), with clear plastic cups over top to stop the thievery. I had a really old stash of these from days of yore, when I wasn't so very savvy about single-use plastics. They're darn handy in the garden especially to protect emerging plants.

Not a bookish comment to be seen but that's because I'm really feeling grumpy about how the current reading title is going (The Hallowed Hunt).

Giu 13, 9:40pm

>143 SandyAMcPherson: Hot, dry, hungry times for birdies...feeding them isn't the worst thing to do with the sprouts.

I hope it's a stupider bird than a crow. Those cups won't stop a crow!

>142 Berly: *smooch*

>141 humouress: :-P

Giu 14, 12:05am

>49 richardderus: (so long ago now, but I will persist)
The Queen's birthday needs a holiday because she owns us. Therefore we must commemorate her existence in a public way. So yeah, it's just a public holiday, and as the last one before a long hard winter, we take it gladly.

Modificato: Giu 14, 3:05pm

>143 SandyAMcPherson: So you aren't charmed by the northerner and his ice-bear? I'm rather fond of Ingrey though he is no Cazaril but an entirely different sort of survivor.

Giu 14, 7:56am

Happy Monday, RDear!

I hope you are more the thing today and can do one or more damned things.

>140 magicians_nephew: Couldn’t agree more, Jim - Murder is Corny is excellent. And last night while playing on my cell phone I saw that it’s one of the Maury Chaykin/Timothy Hutton Nero Wolfe adventures and so had a pleasurable 45 minutes. I need to get serious and watch the series S1E1 – S2E16.

*smooch* from your own Madame TVT Horrible

Giu 14, 9:25am

103 The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Critically acclaimed author Cat Sebastian pens a stunning historical romance about a reluctantly reformed highwayman and the aristocrat who threatens to steal his heart.

Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.

In order to save himself and a beloved friend, Percy, Lord Holland must go against every gentlemanly behavior he holds dear to gain what he needs most: a book that once belonged to his mother, a book his father never lets out of his sight and could be Percy’s savior. More comfortable in silk-filled ballrooms than coffee shops frequented by criminals, his attempts to hire the roughly hewn highwayman, formerly known as Gladhand Jack, proves equal parts frustrating and electrifying.

Kit refuses to participate in the robbery but agrees to teach Percy how to do the deed. Percy knows he has little choice but to submit and as the lessons in thievery begin, he discovers thievery isn’t the only crime he’s desperate to commit with Kit.

But when their careful plan goes dangerously wrong and shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, can these stolen hearts overcome the impediments in their path?


My Review
: I've been able to write harsh reviews before. It should be a doddle to write a happy one, right?

Wrong...when I'm happy, where I expected to be and really almost was, ecstatic.

First and foremost, however, let me assure anyone who likes historical fiction featuring men who get it on with other men that this is a very satisfying example of the genre. Despite the W-bomb dropped at the 17% mark. (At least it was just the one.)

I was utterly delighted by the odd-couple pairing of the future Duke with the highwayman. I was even glad that the couple took a goodly time getting down to business...I'm sure the rational side of an author of M/M romantic novels knows the inflection point of first sexual contact between men is likely to be the source of a sizable, um, payoff for their readers. Knowing it's, erm, coming and being teased to wait for it can be a lot of fun!

Until the magic moment slips by...and it becomes a Thursday-night fuck.

I was 95% there by the time the deed got done, and was fairly resigned to the men having an old-fashioned "the fire flickered and died" fade-to-black coupling. That's not really Author Sebastian's métier, but people are allowed to change and try different things. Going over half the story without the act of consummation was almost too long. It was risky to use alternating PoVs in the story, given the lateness of the sex, because it really risked disinvesting the reader in the when-will-they. There was no question that they wouldn't, of course, but waiting so long to give us the reward when we weren't able to follow one character's perspective on the cost of delay resulted in a certain distancing and detachment...we had no sense of why the particular choice that was made in the final analysis was made. It felt as surprising to me as it must've felt to the men themselves. And yet we dwelt on it not at all!
Webb frequented neither church nor tavern nor anywhere even remotely interesting. Percy had become momentarily intrigued when he realized how often Webb went to the baths, but the man seemed to spend his time there actually bathing, so Percy resumed being unimpressed.
Kit was usually very good at controlling this sort of urge. Hopping into bed with attractive strangers had never appealed to him very much anyway. It always seemed like a lot of hassle {anachronism; coinage not attested until 1945} and risk for pleasure that never quite lived up to one's expectations. And that was with women; with men things were even more complicated because a heaping great dose of danger was thrown into the bargain.

And yet this monadnock of reticence chooses the loss of virginity that most men quail before! This didn't square with what I'd been told, nor was I privy to anything in the cross-talk of the book that would let me think anything other than, "do what now? where'd that even come from?!"

There are Author Sebastian's trademark delightful aperçus, of course, like this delicious pair:
“I used to think that revenge was about defending one’s honor, but it turns out that honor is just spite dressed up for Sunday.”
Percy realized he had had it all wrong when he told Kit that honor is just spite dressed up; spite was honor when it was the only weapon you had against someone more powerful.

Thesis, meet antithesis...and both are equally true. Inarguably so. Doesn't something in you resound with the truth in each of these?

Then came a serious issue I felt really didn't get anything like the time it needed to build up to: the return of the wanderer, and the foreshadowing of the real stakes in what I feel sure now is going to be a series. I can't really say more, and was encouraged to say even less (ie, nothing at all) but there's a reason I want to tell you that you're going to need to brace yourself.

In life, as we live it, there are no unmixed emotions, no purely experienced peak moments. We drag the past with us and chuck it up as a screen to avoid looking into the nothingness of the unlived future. The present is almost never enough to really distract us from the blank wall we can choose what to project onto, but more often choose to see in all its void-of-glory through a ragged curtain of life as it was.

When that happens in fiction, it's of necessity a surprise. What stakes there are, however, are utterly and totally on the line for the author. One false step, one gesture misplaced or misused, and the trust between reader and author can crumble. It almost did for me when the past came to haunt the future.

If this is the first time you're reading one of Author Sebastian's books, put it down and pick up The Turners series or the Seducing the Sedgwicks series here and here. They lack this authorial high-wire act, and building your trust in Author Sebastian's landings being solid, if not precisely the one you're expecting, is necessary not to experience disorientation.

The fact that this will be a series is worth noting as well, since there are people whose actions and inactions we need to know more about before they make full sense. And there are some actions that are, to put it mildly, aren't easy to gloss over...and I don't mean the one many will blench at.

So take this as a solid encouragement to pick up and savor the book for existing fans, with the note to set aside some established patterns; and a shove in the direction of the previous reads by Author Sebastian for new readers. For here be pleasures you should definitely not deny yourself or remain without. We need happy distractions from ugly reality...what better way than to see love conquering the many barriers folk decide to allow there to be in its free and complete exercise.

Giu 14, 9:50am

>147 karenmarie: Hi Horrible, Happy Monday back. It's gloomy and cool here again. I really am dreading the moment that SUMMER kicks in, I've been so spoiled by the regular cycles of cool-downs.

>146 quondame: Ingress?! The author named a character INGRESS and you could continue to read the book?!?

I had to stop a re-read of Dragonflight because the author named a character Fax and, well, it just wasn't on after that. Interestingly, I suppose it's a name that's now gone back to its original state of "not referring to office machinery." My grandson didn't know what a fax machine was...his mother barely remembered mimeographs.

>145 LovingLit: Oooh, of course, I forgot you're her Subjects. Yes. One does rather need to butter up the gawds, doesn't one, and seasonal edges are excellent for that.

Giu 14, 3:05pm

>149 richardderus: Oops. Ingrey. Perhaps not much better. I'm going to fix it now. Then you can fix it and I'll fix this to a comment on Dragonflight and that'll be it.

Giu 14, 3:16pm

>150 quondame: *chuckle* wayyy too much trouble for such a meager change.

Modificato: Giu 15, 7:19am

^Hey, RD. I went on a solo jaunt this morning. It is a long drive, nearly 40 miles and I hoped to see a couple more gems but a good look at a male blue grosbeak made it worth it. I only had about 15-20 seconds to react so I missed a photo. Sh*t! I think there was a female nearby too but didn't get a good enough look.

Like the rose-breasted grosbeak, they have that telltale beak.

Giu 14, 6:02pm

>152 msf59: Oh, how very gorgeous! Such a beautiful boy he is. Thanks for posting it!

Giu 14, 9:09pm

Happy almost-Tuesday, Richard, and happy to see you are inhaling some excellent reading material. Your comment about character names reminds me that I was never able to get into a Raymond Feist series a co-working recommended to me because I couldn't get over the fact that the main character was named Pug.

Giu 14, 9:55pm

>154 bell7: Ha! I was just this minute over at yours visiting! Funny.

I'm totally with you re: "Pug." I had a hard enough time with Pugsley Addams...then they lobbed "Pubert Addams" at me and, well, peace out people.

It's, unnecessarily contrarian, just flat off-putting to me.

Modificato: Giu 14, 10:49pm

>154 bell7: >155 richardderus: When these came out part of their deliberate charm was that they had down to earth names and language in a setting of high fantasy. I think you had to be there, and even though I was, I wasn't charmed.

Giu 14, 11:26pm

>148 richardderus: I really like the writing samples in that one, Richard! Will I read it when the price comes down or pick up an older one as you advise? I can't say, but you convinced me that it is more than fluffy romance.

Giu 15, 3:49am

>152 msf59: I would have guessed 'cardinal' but it looks like they're not friends.

>143 SandyAMcPherson: Oh; I read Hallowed Hunt last year and am surprised to see that I didn't post a review. I did make a note that I'd give it 5 stars, though.

Giu 15, 9:29am


That is all.

Giu 15, 10:03am

>159 katiekrug: Hiya Katie! Glad you're here. *smooch*

>158 humouress: They really aren't.

>157 LizzieD: It is more than fluff, though it is as fluffy as a bath sheet straight out of the dryer. The author never uses the tired, ick-ptui trope of rich = good, poor = sad, etc etc. And all her stories involve redistribution of wealth, consciously, and that makes me very happy.

A used copy, permaybehaps.

>156 quondame: I was also there; I remain uncharmed. "The Lady Sabrina" and the like also gives me gas, so it's not like I was a partisan who was disappointed when they went all the way into the muck.

Giu 15, 10:52am

>131 humouress: I love Garfield!

Giu 15, 11:07am

>161 thornton37814: So ... this calls for more cats here?

Giu 15, 1:08pm

Giu 15, 1:12pm

>163 richardderus: I'm sure it does, really.

Giu 15, 1:30pm

>163 richardderus: I could share some photos of cats in Greece. You'd like that. Granddaughter Helen linked me to her Google album of roughly 100 cat photos she shot in Greece. In a week's time. Archeologists gearing up for a dig have to remember to include lots of cat treats. Unless the random cats are distracted, the dig won't get dug.

Giu 15, 1:33pm

See; archaeology. I bet Tony Robinson would approve.

Giu 15, 1:37pm

>166 humouress: Then send HIM the bloody things.

>165 weird_O: Does no one in Greece possess a BB gun? A few fewer eyes and the problem's sorted.

>164 humouress: No. It does NOT.

Giu 15, 3:33pm

Happy Tuesday, RD.

The kidlet came out yesterday, went to a wedding, spent the night, then left this a.m. for Asheville. And I had a book sale team meeting this morning - way too much going on.


Giu 15, 3:41pm

>162 humouress: The more cats, the merrier!

Giu 15, 4:08pm

>169 thornton37814: ...anywhere you like that is not here.

>168 karenmarie: Heh. We're set in our ways aren't we, when even things we want/need to do feel like impositions.

Giu 15, 4:31pm

I’ve got some lovely photos of Greek cats too! Also Cypriot cats.

Giu 15, 4:36pm

>131 humouress: Love it.
>169 thornton37814: I concur.
As a cat person with no cat of their own, I'll quite happily look at any number of cat photos.


One of the most satisfying sounds there is.

Giu 15, 5:10pm

>172 Helenliz:, >171 SandDune: Again, for emphasis: ANYWHERE YOU LIKE THAT IS NOT HERE

"Here" in this usage constituting any thread with my username in its title. Absolutely no, zero, none, of the cat family is welcome here (as defined above).

Anyone so introducing the aforesaid member of the cat family will receive, in their own thread(s), photographs of pornographic acts performed by men upon other men.

You Have Been Warned.

Giu 15, 5:41pm

>173 richardderus: Maybe I won’t then!

Giu 15, 5:49pm

>174 SandDune: Wise soul...heed the warnings given, no exchange of harm will come.

Modificato: Giu 15, 6:17pm

Update on the crow versus garden plant wars:
Crows, zero; beans, still in the ground (because no covers were overturned).

BTW, I did post a book review today. A stellar achievement in my week so far.

Giu 15, 7:29pm

>176 SandyAMcPherson: Yay for no overturnings! Beans for all this fall!

I shall coddiwomple thitherward directly to cast my ocular units upon the selfsame.

Giu 16, 10:17am

'Morning, RDear! Happiest of Wednesdays to you.

Nothing on my slate today, yay.


Giu 16, 1:03pm

Hiya, Richard. Great review of A Scot's Surrender. Loved the quotes. It's probably not in my wheelhouse, but I enjoyed the review.

I loved Dictionary of Lost Words. Essymay and LIzzie - what a duo. How interesting, and daunting, to think about writing a dictionary from scratch.

Now I"m reading Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me. How embarrassingly on-target it is. By nature I'm not a mansplainer, but what she writes about (which is a lot more than mansplaining) still makes me cringe for my gender.

Giu 16, 1:13pm

>179 jnwelch: *sigh*

Well, this isn't the time or the place to go into how extremely sexist "mansplain" I won't.

It's a hoot, is Dictionary of Lost Words. Very, very fun read. My review's coming up before too long.

>178 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible! *smooch*

Modificato: Giu 16, 4:19pm

104 the easiness and the loneliness by Asta Olivia Nordenhof tr. Susanna Nied

Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: One of the best-selling poetry collections of the past decade, Asta Olivia Nordenhof’s the easiness and the loneliness took Denmark by storm with its refreshing honesty and directness about growing up in a challenging family situation. Nordenhof eschews traditional ideas of poetic beauty in favor of poems that double as social critiques, addressing the inequalities in Denmark, the difficulties of living under great financial strain, various forms of abuse, and working in a brothel.

My Review: I've said multiple times in various places that I continue to challenge my reading preferences to prevent them from becoming insurmountable prejudices. I keep trying different, sometimes well-known and other times unknown, YA novels, comic books graphic novels, and even *shudder* poetry *retch*.

I got this PDF from Open Letter, for which I thank them very kindly; until last week, I had no way to read it because I was solely in the Kindleverse. Then I got...hosanna in the highest!...a Galaxy Tab so I could spread the wear on my laptop out a bit. (GREAT for streaming!) It made reading this slim, bilingual edition of Danish poet Asta Olivia Nordenhof's very, very weird poems a breeze.

What was not a breeze was trying to figure out what the hell the poet's talking about:
on the way to the ocean, we pick elderberries

all the love i have can fit in an elderberry

someone should have taken away her meekness

my mother

i should have said:

no one has the right to destroy you

all those fuckheads

youre meticulous with your makeup before we leave for the school program

forget it

just forget it

theres no reason to be kind to anyone unkind

forget it

no one has the right to demand that you be kind to the unkind

No, I didn't remove or forget punctuation; no, I didn't deliberately add spaces or line-breaks; this is how the PDF presented itself to me. I swear to you that, in my quest not to die above the neck before I do below it, I am not looking for examples to confirm my biases...I accepted this offer of a PDF because I'd never heard of the poet in any capacity and knew absolutely nothing about her.

What the actual fuck is she talking about there?! Her abused mother? Okay, I get that; but unless I'm utterly insensible to poetry, that is far from all she's talking it? isn't it? gawd I want an elderberry, where's the jam.

So far, so bad.

But then I hit something that made me squirm, flinch, and regard the page with new and increasing respect:
thomas, his room is small, he has to sit on the edge of the bed

hes just home from iraq

he asks us to smell the sweater he was wearing when he was shot

id rather not have to look at him. id rather not have to look at you

when we head home dulled by menthol-licorice vodka

tomorrow too we will wake up and be witnesses. helpful. silent
on the way down to the drugstore to buy hair dye.

It's excerpted from a longer poem. I was ready to just write off my reading experience, despite the fact that I'm quite fond of several poets and would never, ever go out of my way to hurt them, as just another dreary exercise in obfuscatory self-gratification before my befuddled old-man eyes. That poem, especially that fragment of it, in such simple and direct language (kudos to you, Translator Nied), bashes the snot out of complacent and dismissive attitudes towards the lived experiences of others. The poet's choice of her tenuous connection's demand for sharing a reality no one else in his life, confined to a narrow and solitary space, would ever once think of requesting. I don't think anyone accepted it, either. But the urgency of the is like being slapped backhand by a bigger, stronger person, and done with real rage...outrage, is there a superlative I don't know about? I need it.

Moseying on through the Danishness of the alternating pages, I was utterly and finally transfixed:
so we sit at home seeing dead women

maybe hanged in the attic with barbed wire, maybe drenched in honey

then people have to hurry and find the creep who did it before he kills

another woman

and drenches her in honey and has sex with her post-mortem

what the fucks going on

better for people who grew up with violence and sex to turn themselves

into saints and be killed
that way, than for all of us jointly to take on the deeply entrenched

hatred of women

crime shows get off too easy
everyone gets off too easy

So. Yeah. This is why I don't watch TV. I binge on shows via streaming services when I'm already sure they don't use women/queers/children/Black folks as victims, or if they do, it's reparatively handled (revenge stories satisfy me). This is why most "thrillers" are off my list. I really, really don't want that imagery in my head...and here's a poet, of all people, boiling my angry disgust into two viciously stabby lines:
crime shows get off too easy
everyone gets off too easy

Exactly. And this, my olds, is why I continue to challenge myself to read genres I dislike. There is, not always but often, something to take away the curse of isolation from solitude.

Giu 16, 7:22pm

Hi Richard. Skimming through I find myself grateful that you are willing to visit my thread even though there is always a cat or three in the role of topper.

Glad you also enjoyed Dictionary of Lost Words. It's getting a good dose of LT love.

It's hump day, then I work one more week, then I have a week off. I'm in the "start thinking about what books you'll take camping with you stage." It's one of my favorite parts of vacation planning.

Giu 16, 7:25pm

>182 EBT1002: *chuckle* If I avoided all places with Felis cattus I'd be sitting here with expensive electronic paperweights.

My Galaxy Tab S6 is such a joy.

Have a GREAT time camping! I hope your early-birthday surprise will be there when you get back.

Giu 16, 7:36pm

>181 richardderus: Nice review, Richard! As you know, I'm not big on most poetry either, but every now and again I find something that speaks to me. Glad that was true for you with this one.

Between you and Joe, I managed to get hit with a book bullet for Dictionary of Lost Words. *Grumble* My library holds list was starting to get so manageable too. I was *almost* in single digits.

Giu 16, 7:45pm

>184 bell7: #sorrynotsorry

You'll be very glad we ripped your streak of TBR-slimming to shreds. I can't imagine what would make this one a bad read for you, knowing the books you like. It truly was a pleasurable read.

I was utterly gobsmacked to find anything positive to say about the darn thing after those opening 30pp. Just...blah...then it got a lot better! (Well, it's anti-capitalist, how am I not gonna love that.)

Giu 16, 8:31pm

>179 jnwelch: Good for you, Joe (reading Men Explain Things to Me). Many are the fellows who are too self-defended or uncomfortable with reading Solnit. Or even thinking of admitting to reading her work. She is a vibrant observer of the human condition.

Giu 16, 8:33pm

>184 bell7: I have to come accept (finally with prods from drneutron) that belonging to LibraryThing is a corollary for never being in the single digits with the library requests, the BB lists or the WL.

Giu 16, 8:45pm

>185 richardderus: >187 SandyAMcPherson: I mean, my TBR pile as on a Google Spreadsheet is up to 2383, so it's not like I'm running out of reading material anytime soon. But I had finally got my library holds list from 17-20 at a time down to 10 very recently and was hoping that was a sign of my... growing restraint.

But as you say, Richard, it really does look like it will be right in my wheelhouse and I expect I'll read it quickly when it arrives.

Modificato: Giu 16, 9:27pm

Finished up A Master of Djinn - what a kick!

Modificato: Giu 16, 9:46pm

And finally, >181 richardderus: no one has the right to demand that you be kind to the unkind.
Words to live by.

That review may even make a poetry reader out of me. (Edited to add that I favrourited it so now it's marked in yellow and I can find it again).
RD, you should *preen* indeed.

Giu 16, 11:23pm

Gosh, Richard; you read and reviewed a poetry book and gave it a decent rating.

I think I see cats in your future ...

Modificato: Giu 17, 12:33am

>181 richardderus: Re: >191 humouress: Richard, be careful of that inch!

Modificato: Giu 17, 5:15am

Happy Thursday, Richard dear!

Frank got his second shot yesterday
Only today and tomorrow the heat will continue here, more bearable days coming with much needed rain
You liked some poems
The world is full of wonder :-)

ETA changed weather forcast

Giu 17, 8:29am

'Morning, RDear. May you have a joyous coffee, book, and etc. day.


Giu 17, 8:43am

>194 karenmarie: Hey Horrible! Thanks for the good wishes...I expect to live up to them.

>193 FAMeulstee: I'm delighted about Frank's full Pfizering! I completely understand your sense of shock at current events, next thing I'll be telling you is that I've got a new cat.

Hoping your normal, cooler weather gets there a bit sooner than expected.

Giu 17, 8:55am

>192 quondame:, >191 humouress:, >190 SandyAMcPherson: There can be no pets...the state rules for assisted living facilities forbid them! *huge sigh of relief*

I'm still a widge reeling-from-shock at liking the poems. Funnily, I'm three-and-a-half years late reading the book because Open Letter sent me a PDF. Until last week I had no way to read them.

>189 drneutron: Yaaay! I'm happy that you found it fun to read, Jim.

>188 bell7: I checked my consolidated TBR...I refuse to reveal the number, but multiply yours by a whole integer greater than 1+1.

>187 SandyAMcPherson:, >186 SandyAMcPherson: :-)

Giu 18, 3:04am

Happy Friday Richard. I've got nothing else today...

Giu 18, 10:04am

It's Morphidae/Nora's birthday today! In her honor, I've **finally** posted a #PrideMonth review of a book she very generously gave me to read: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is up at my blog:

When one's bookish friends give one a book, it is a special treasure and it stays on the shelves forever, don't you find? So thanks again, Morphy! *smooch*

>197 BekkaJo: Hiya Bekka! That's perfectly fine, you don't need to justify your existence's enough for me that you do, in fact, exist. Makes this world a bit better.

Giu 18, 1:38pm

>101 richardderus: Man, that one sounds like my jam. I will have to request the easiness and the loneliness. I had not heard of it or the poet before.

I have been steering away from fantasy the past couple of years, but you and Jim snagged me with A Master of Djinn. I might make that a summer read.

Happy Friday, Richard.

Giu 18, 2:40pm

>199 msf59: Thanks, Mark, and to you as well!

I'm pretty confident you'll like A Master of Djinn when its turn at the top of the TBR comes. The world-building is so very visual; the characters are all so smoothly drawn. Be sure to read at the least The Haunting of Tram Car 015 first, though, as it's a short novella to whet your appetite with.

Modificato: Giu 19, 12:58pm

I can't remember, Richard, if you like doing the LT treasure hunts or not. Well, if you do and the banner didn't pop up for you either, the LT Pride Treasure Hunt is up.

Modificato: Giu 21, 7:10am

106 The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Rating: 4 impressed-but-frustrated stars of five

The Publisher Says: An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens her new home and her fragile place in it, in a stunning sci-fi debut that’s both a cross-dimensional adventure and a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now she has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.

My Review: Damn, it's *so*close* to being excellent! Instead, it's very very good, and you're spending both money and time very wisely on this debut novel.

Cara's world is a multiverse with very interesting rules for travel: your alt-Earth counterpart must be dead. It's very exciting to follow Cara in her travels to an unusually large number of multiversally-vibrating alt-Earths. The problems her mortality-prone other-Earth selves are succumbing to make it possible for the author to reflect on the many problems of our end-stage capitalist world without shouting or whining.

Giu 19, 3:13pm

>201 humouress: Oh, thanks for letting me know! *smooch*

Giu 19, 3:17pm

>202 richardderus: This is on my TBR list already, Richard, and your review cements for me that it will be a good 'un when I'm finally able to read it.

Giu 19, 3:58pm

>204 bell7: I really think you'll very deeply resonate with it. I hope it gets your eyeblinks soon!

Giu 19, 5:15pm

>201 humouress: Thanks! I probably wouldn't have seen it until it was over. 8 was a bummer!

Giu 19, 7:39pm

Happy Father's Day, dear fellow.

Giu 19, 7:46pm

>207 PaulCranswick: Thanks, PC! It's still Saturday here for four hours, but the sentiment is welcome.

>206 quondame: :-)

Giu 19, 9:59pm

Hey there, I’ll echo PC’s sentiments. Happy Fathers Day WEEKEND!

Also, thanks for the reminder about Haunting of Tram Car 015. I needed a going out of the house book on the phone and it fit the bill. About half way thru. The Space Between Worlds sounds pretty interesting too

Giu 20, 6:50am

>203 richardderus: You're welcome.

>206 quondame: You're welcome too. I only ran across it by accident, so I thought I'd mention it on a high traffic thread because it looks like a lot of people have missed it.

Modificato: Giu 20, 6:32pm

107 Nationalist Love by Jakub Topor...not even a touchstone! *tsk*

Rating: 5* of five


My Review
: Two skinhead boys, Zapsky and Byro, meet at a hate-rally held in their Polish city. The Nationalists, our Proud Boys writ Euro, throw stuff and set fires and hurt cops. These are some revolting people. They're each stupider than the other, they got no class or brains, yet still they find each other...attractive? available? attainable maybe. Their stupid antics require them to hide from the cops...naturally they decide to do it together, since Zapsky's mother is away for a month. Hijinks ensue.

This isn't the first time I've seen these boys, just never so thoroughly reduced to their ugliest shapes and colors. As a not-especially-convinced experiencer of sequential art, this was always something I found irritating...this kind of "artwork" would get the horselaugh from so many artsy types I've known. I'd absorbed that prejudice and simply never bothered to challenge or examine it until the past few years. Now, I look at this art's clumsiness and its garishness and think...well, how better to narrate this story?

Whaddaya expect, anyway, in a world centered on two losers without a shred of class or decency between them? They are always gonna have to hide abnormal, sick sexual proclivities from the world their undereducated, credulous, angry, and powerless class lives in. Funnily enough, like so many who live in that hate-defined and -bounded world, it's also the one they resent. But Zapsky and Byro got lucky, found each other....found love...which is the most dangerous thing of all. Zapsky definitely feels this, after a brief and deeply unsettling period of being truly happy with Byro, and under pressure to prove he's not a fag to his co-workers, he sends a break-up text that callously dismisses Byro.

Zapsky's Mammele, escaping her loser son's ubiquity and her own pointless existence, is at a beach resort-cum-health spa. And guess what? She meets A Man too! (Called Manfred. No lie.) The sheer awfulness of the art, as in the ugliness of the people and the garishness of the colors, goes so well with this horrible tale of numerous disgusting creeps that it's almost eerie. And that's when I felt myself really giving up, shedding the weight of, that habit of contempt. It isn't pretty! But who said art needs to be pretty? I like Jackson Pollock and Agnes Martin, for gods' sweet sake. I'm not one of those Impressionism-über-Alles sofa-matching-art people!

Or maybe I am...and hide it from myself by liking things that made my mother cringe? That certainly includes comic books...I've been so snobby about them for so long that it feels fake to say, "there is no other way this story could've been told, and it very much needed to be told," but it's just the truth.

Chapter 3 is called "Spoiled Rich Kids"...seems to be a pattern among Polish émigré writers. Like Jedrowski in Swimming in the Dark, Topor gets a character (Byro Bad-skin here) among the wealthy who are privileged to consume and exist as they like. Then he lets him sink or swim...sink in this case. Byro's rebounding from his breakup text, and searches the Internet for gay clubs...he decides he's going to fix himself up, be less Nationalist looking, by dressing better and hiding his skinhead under his loser father's long-unused toupée. The club scene scares him, he doesn't know the culture and is about to get himself into serious trouble but is rescued by one of the rich kids. They decide to keep him when leaving the club becomes a good idea...he almost loses his cool when a "darkie" (an Arab guy called Jamal) is in the house party, too. He's eventually, and inevitably, outed as a Nationalist; but not until after kissing a straight guy at the party. The violence the posers inflict on Byro is pretty mild...more about humiliating him for not being like them. And that, despite the fact he doesn't *want* to be like them, is the worst rejection he suffers. (Not that he is recovered from being rejected by Zapsky, please understand. Just trying to figure out how to move on.)

Mammele gets lucky with Manfred. That scene's just grisly. Even Byro's parents decide to fool around (more grisly still). Byro's Dadzio figures out the kid's got his wig. That should be fun! I thought, watching him explain what the hell he was doing with the damn thing....

Chapter 4 is "Zapsky Looks for a Girlfriend"...the co-workers' plan to get Zapsky laid results in him finding one. Because he's never been in any relationship at all except the brief honeymoon with Byro, he ignores the red flags of an abusive, angry, selfish woman looking for something in exchange for the sex she doles out to him. In his months-long journey through this hell, Zapsky confronts low self-esteem, and his work pals do a lot to support him and care for him. They are crude but actually touchingly kind. Since we focus on Zapsky, we never learn anything more about what happened after Byro's night out...disappointingly...or about Mammele's reactions to the girl Zapsky gets with.

But long story short: Girl gets dumped. Zapsky gets lonely. One rainy day who does he see under a bus shelter but...BYRO!! It's a loving reunion, the bond of real love between them reasserts itself, and they, well, do what young guys do when under the heady influence of reciprocal attraction and genuine connection. They fool around.

...and there's a PoS from their earlier Nationalist lives filming their reunion.

Naturally, the evidence gets shown to the wrong people. All the old gang, I mean this literally, are on the hunt for Zapsky. They find him.

Things end as they so often do.

It's awful to know that this happens and happens and happens to men and women, cis and trans, all around the world because "don't be so sensitive" and "it's just a joke" aren't seen for what they are.

They are normalizations of hate, and soft volleys preparing the way for violence.

I downloaded this graphic novel from Europe Comics, an outfit with whom I am, if you're in the same boat, here's their mission statement from NetGalley:
Europe Comics is a joint digital initiative run by 13 European comics industry players from 8 European countries. Its main purpose is the creation of a pan-European catalog of award-winning graphic novels from across the continent, published digitally in English and available through major retailers and library networks. Europe Comics also works towards the promotion of European authors and the creation of a European comics online directory, meant for both comics readers and professionals. this Polish creator found his way to this American oldster via a social system intermediated by several levels of technology that are under a lot of pressure all the time to justify its worst users' behaviors. This is an example of positive social and personal results from being massively online. Say hallelujah and bring the jubilee.

Giu 20, 10:39am

Sending big waves from over the pond and wishing you a fabulous Sunday. *smooch*

Giu 20, 10:54am

>212 Ameise1: Thank you, Barbara, and I'm very glad to see you around and about!

Giu 20, 11:22am

>211 richardderus: Huh. A graphic novel got a 5-star review from you and you didn't hate the poetry collection. What a week you're having! :)

Giu 20, 11:56am

>214 bell7: Heh. I think it's the knowledge that I'm going to be *eep* a great-grandfather *ack* that's caused aliens to trans-reverse my brain patterns or something.

Giu 20, 12:32pm

5 stars for a GN? Does a quick triple-take. Great review too. I hope I can track it down somewhere. I do not like reading GNs on my Kindle though.

Giu 20, 12:38pm

>216 msf59: I'm afraid that's the only format they've made available in the US...I think it might have to do with the size of the market they're expecting to be interested enough to buy it. And it's less than $10, so the outlay won't be crushing even if you end up hating it (which I seriously doubt you would in any case).

Giu 20, 2:00pm

Hiya, RD!

Happy Sunday to you.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Giu 20, 2:08pm

I *like* that you're not settling down into a comfortable retirement in all senses. That you're still prepared to push yourself outside your comfort zone and find something new and shiny out there is one of the most exciting things about you - and your threads.

More power to your elbow.

Giu 20, 3:12pm

>219 Helenliz: Thanks, Helen. It can be a challenge to stay open, as open as possible anyway; but I dread becoming resistant to new things, ideas, modes of being without giving them at least some studious attention and effort to understand.

I am surrounded by people who boast of not having changed their minds since Bush was president. It went from desideratum to moral imperative to not be like them.

>218 karenmarie: Hey there, Horrible! Happy Sunday. *smooch*

Giu 20, 5:25pm

Hmmm, also shocked at a 5-star review of a GN from you, but what the heck, I’ll give it a go!

Giu 20, 6:33pm

>221 drneutron: Heh. Well, if there's a reason to pick it up, that one's a good one. I hope you'll see what appealed to me, not just the *shock* value I think the creator was going for.

Giu 21, 3:10am

>202 richardderus: And on to the list it goes.

Hope you have a good week.

Giu 21, 3:41am

What have you done with our Richard? ... no, never mind. I think I like this one better.

Giu 21, 7:15am

>224 humouress: Heh. I'll crank up the cantankerous again soon.

>223 BekkaJo: I hope it's an excellent read when you get to it, Bekka, there's so much *there*!

Lovely week-ahead's reads to you, too. *smooch*

Giu 21, 8:35am

'Morning, RDear, and happy Monday to you.

My University of Chicago Press books arrived Saturday and I spent an enjoyable half hour just now cataloging them and ensuring that they had the proper cover, either by using a member-uploaded cover or scanning in the correct one myself.


Giu 21, 9:15am

Monday morning *smooch.*

Giu 21, 9:45am

>227 katiekrug: It is indeed That Morning, but you're going to be fully a/c'd by nightfall. That ain't nothin'!


>226 karenmarie: Oh boy oh boy! That is the cataloger's real second birthday gift. Have a lovely Friends meeting today! *smooch*

Giu 21, 7:43pm

108 Infidels: A Novel by Abdellah Taïa

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Set in Salé, Morocco—the hometown Abdellah Taïa fled but to which he returns again and again in his acclaimed fiction and films—Infidels follows the life of Jallal, the son of a prostitute witch doctor—"a woman who knew men, humanity, better than anyone. In sex. Beyond sex." As a ten-year-old sidekick to his mother, Jallal spits in the face of her enemies both real and imagined.

The cast of characters that rush into their lives are unforgettable for their dreams of love and belonging that unravel in turn. Built as a series of monologues that are emotionally relentless—a mix of confession, heart's murmuring, and shouting match—the book follows Jallal out of boyhood on the path to Jihad. It's a path that surprises even him.


My Review
: Stellar, stellar read. I was sent to the online translation-dictionary at least 10 times, which is a good thing for me. It's a genuine pleasure to look at and hold, as you'd expect from a Seven Stories book. The story only makes the aesthetic pleasure better, as well-crafted as such a concentrated fiction can possibly be.

As with all of Taïa's writing, this is a spectacularly beautiful-sounding text.
War was declared from the very first note. This woman...was not afraid of repeating herself, of saying the same words over and over, fighting a solitary battle. The battle of love, of course.
You whose love gave my life flavor, color
I'll never give you up, whatever happens
Whatever happens
And if a word was said in anger
And injured our hearts
We forget our sadness
And which of us spoke,
It's through the soul that we love
We'll always be together
All our lives, together
Whatever happens
I loved you
When I found you
Before my eyes a distant dream
Was in my eyes
Out of reach
The next moment it was in my hand
Who chooses to leave paradise?
Why destroy our own hopes
And spend the rest of our lives regretting
What happened?
You whose love gave my life flavor, color
I'll never give you up, whatever happens
Whatever happens
Give you up
Whatever happens.

It took our breath away.
The song lasted almost seven minutes. It was so powerful. And the voice...rang out from the heart of the war. War to the bitter end, the final breath. ...
"The man she's talking about in that song doesn't exist. No man can be worthy of such love and sacrifice."

You will never know how much the moment costs while you're in it, but that is the precise inflection point where a youth becomes a warrior.

It is Part III that seems to cause Muslims the most outrage, the betrayed hurt of being misunderstood from within; Taïa is one of their own! He sends young Jallal into such pain and loneliness that not even a god could endure; a mother murdered before her body dies and all for what? What justifies the torture of another soul? (Nothing, of course, but there's always a reason even when there can be no excuse.) And here is Mouad, a stranger, a Belgian whose heart heard the Prophet's call; he has parts of Jallal's mother that her son can't see or hear, so naturally he hates the man who usurped his child's place beside his mother.

But it is Mouad who, indirectly, leads Jallal to Mathis-Mahmoud; leads him to a death that is Resurrection and completion.

Yes, the horror happens.

But God is beyond mere human hates and judgments. Mathis-Mahmoud and Jallal are, in a soliloquy of God's, united and blessed and made whole together.
You see, I'm like you. In misfortune and in power. Divine and orphaned. I'm made of the same stuff as you. I'm in you. In every body. Every night. Every dream.
Don't cry, Jallal.
Take his hand, Mathis.
Go. Go. As brothers of the heart. There, behind that door, life has not even begun for you.
Go. On the way you'll pass a beautiful pomegranate tree. Pick two pomegranates. And later, before you go to sleep, take a moment to eat them.

Giu 22, 8:03am

Hiya RD!

My laptop is fixed - corrupt files although I have anti-everything software on it and even Abinash the Dell tech was puzzled - and I'm so relieved that it was nothing more than about an hour and a half with him on the phone and him accessing the laptop. I spend $5/month on premium support, totally worth it.

Today I'll spend time on the cataloger's real third birthday gift - moving books around and finding shelf space for the newbies.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Giu 22, 10:33am

>230 karenmarie: It sure as heck paid for itself this time, didn't it! And it scares me poopless that Abinash was clueless about how this problem came to be...I want the techs to be omniscient, me.

Ooohhh, I went into rehoming mode yesterday as well! I wasn't adding new books, though. I was trying to get all my old QUILTBAG reads in one area and, well, you know what happens when you pull one thread.

Happy New Books Day! *smooch*

Giu 22, 11:09am

Morning Brew, a daily business newsletter I've been getting since ~2016, had an excellent memory game today. They gave the chapter titles of a Wikipedia entry and your task was to name the entry:
Chapter titles: Plato's dialogues, Interpretations, Location hypotheses, Literary interpretations, Artistic representations

Anyone care to hazard a guess what the article's title is?

And then Inverse, a geek publication I enjoy, talked up a life-hack I'd always just assumed was proven despite the fact that it's only now been so:
"Scientists examined the fluctuating magnetic fields in the brains of participants asked to perform a sequential task repeatedly. They observed that in the brief breaks...that task was replayed rapidly in their minds as if learning on its own."
Article is here:

Giu 22, 11:14am

>232 richardderus: - The cave allegory?

Giu 22, 11:30am

>233 katiekrug: No! But thank goodness you guessed that because it was my guess, too.

Do you want me to tell you, or try one more time?

Giu 22, 11:33am

>234 richardderus: - Go ahead and tell me.

Giu 22, 12:20pm

Yeah, I never would have gotten that.

Giu 22, 12:27pm

Neither me. But it was an interesting challenge. I think they need to limit the scope of their game with some parameters or a clue or two, but it's fun!

Giu 22, 2:44pm

Good review of the 5 star comic book! Are you recovered from the vertigo of such an unlikely event?

That multi-verse one sounds worth a peek.

Giu 22, 4:02pm

^Yep, the bird geek was stomping around in the woods early today. It is a gorgeous day in Chicagoland and the afternoon has been reserved for the books.

I hope you are having a nice one too, Richard.

Giu 22, 4:14pm

>240 msf59: It got a lot better:

I got my long-awaited copy of Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan! My Twitter friend Dr. Malik wrote these updatings and self-published them in Pakistan, and my order missed the first printing. That was last it's been a wait. Worth it, though!

Glad it's pretty weather after the scariness of those tornadoes.

>239 jnwelch: Oh yes indeed, Joe, Micaiah Johnson's book is very much worth your eyeblinks. The same sort of idea as A River Called Time from earlier this year, but I really felt it was handled so much better conceptually and in the execution both.

...I'm still a wee bit dizzy, if I'm honest...

Giu 22, 4:52pm

Happy Tuesday, Richard. See GNs aren’t all bad. I see more in your future.

Giu 22, 5:03pm

>242 Familyhistorian: No indeed, Meg, they are not all bad...that one in particular proves there are stories that absolutely could not be told in another medium. I've downloaded another comic from the same publisher...I'll let you know what happens.

Happy Tuesday!

Giu 22, 5:05pm

>241 richardderus: Such a great feel when an anticipated book finally arrives, Richard dear.
You look very content behind your mask ;-)

Giu 22, 6:10pm

>244 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! It is indeed a real pleasure.

Giu 22, 9:34pm

Midnight Doorways: Fables from Pakistan looks promising. Look forward to your thoughts.

Giu 22, 10:24pm

It's *gorgeous*, Mark! I'll post some photos of the interior art tomorrow.

Giu 23, 8:05am

‘Morning, RDear, and happiest of Wednesdays to you.

>231 richardderus: Books are a tactile experience for sure, so rehoming all your QUILTBAGs together must have made you happy. I didn't get to work with my books yesterday, alas, but today looks promising.

>241 richardderus: Yay for a book arriving after (im)patient waiting.

Giu 23, 9:24am

>248 karenmarie: Hi Horrible! Humpday started off well...I reviewed the anthology Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora last December and this morning my review was one of the editors' humblebrag about how good his work was! That's always fun.

You'll enjoy the book-fondling all the more for the delay, and goodness knows you've got the space to really spread the activity around the house.

It's so pretty and it's mineminemine!!!

Giu 23, 12:22pm

I found three reviews I'd blogged but never posted here, which is weird. I've got over 900 posts, and twelve separate subject-pages, on my blog, so I suppose losing track of things is inevitable. This discovery was made because...

I have myself a nasty troll, have had for years, and one of its tricks is to make false copyright-infringement claims about my reviews...the disputed text is then taken down but there's no automatic restoration of it when the claim's proven false.

Which I did not know.

It will be a lot of work, but I'm going to have to go over every damned review to see what this jackanapes has done to me. Some people need to get a life.

Giu 23, 3:57pm

>250 richardderus: Ugh! I'm so sorry you've got such garbage going on over on the blog. *hugs*

Giu 23, 8:13pm

>251 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky, for the sympathy. I'm not sure what makes a troll's expenditure of effort on spreading their internal nastiness and misery worth their while, but spread they do and for ***years***.

Hoping your Thursday is a good one!

Modificato: Giu 23, 8:19pm

Well, Pride is almost over...I've got all but two days packed with queerbooks of differing genres. I will BLOW AWAY the needed-to-post goal for my annual one of 190. I will have posted 45 reviews this month!

FORTY-FIVE!! A total of 110 reviews posted on my blog by the end of June 2021...eighty to go, or 14 a month!

That don't stink, my olds.

Giu 24, 12:00am

>250 richardderus: Aww; you do have a pet.

Giu 24, 4:30am

Happy Thursday, Richard dear!

>250 richardderus: Sorry to read about loosing reviews on your blog because of nasty troll. I hope you sill have them somewhere, so they can be put up again.

>253 richardderus: That is awesome!

Giu 24, 6:06am

Trolls suck.

But wooop! on the reviews. Go you :)

Giu 24, 9:24am

Hi RD. Happy Thursday. Bad news at >250 richardderus: and good news at >253 richardderus:.

>250 richardderus: I’m so sorry to hear about the nasty troll, sorry that you have to go over your reviews. More than get a life, the troll should be punished.

>253 richardderus: Congrats on your amazing progress so far on reviews, dear one. You’re right, that don’t stink.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Giu 24, 11:16am

109 Master Class by Christina Dalcher

Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: It’s impossible to know what you will do…

Every child's potential is regularly determined by a standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and attend a top tier school with a golden future. Score too low, and it's off to a federal boarding school with limited prospects afterwards. The purpose? An improved society where education costs drop, teachers focus on the more promising students, and parents are happy.

When your child is taken from you.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state's elite schools. When her nine-year-old daughter bombs a monthly test and her Q score drops to a disastrously low level, she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal institution hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena thought she understood the tiered educational system, but as a mother whose child is now gone, Elena's perspective is changed forever. She just wants her daughter back.

And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.


My Review
: First, read this:
Patriotism doesn't require turning a blind eye to the darker chapters of our country's history; if anything, the opposite.
Everyone wanted something new, some solution, a reason to feel safe about their little wedge of the human race pie in a country that would see skyrocketing population numbers in another generation.

I know there are squads and fleets of dystopias in the book world. This is one of the "aren't men awful, look at those ghastly 'Karens,' who do those crackers think they are" sort; the idea of a society organized by one's "intelligence" is both fictionally familiar (Brave New World ring a bell?) and factually based (the 2019 College Admissions Bribery scandal); so it's down to execution of the idea whether one should read a particular iteration of it. The theoretical-linguist PhD author has the chops to make pithy the sprawling concerns of Suzanne Collins or Pierce Brown readers in one book not three.

Giu 24, 11:19am

Delurking to say "Hi". Low energy, fed up with isolating and pandemic travel restrictions... same old same old. Your reviewing prowess is magnificent. Where do you find such energy?

Giu 24, 11:25am

>257 karenmarie: Don't read >258 richardderus: without noticing the placement of the quotation marks! *smooch*

I'd like there to be consequences for trolls...but when even the PTB *here* refuse to see there's a right and a wrong, and behaving accordingly, there is absolutely no hope in the wider world. And thanks for the validation about this amazing month's review-posting (and writing...even the re-posts need correcting and clean-up!). It's been a huge effort but it's led to some wonderful rediscoveries.

>256 BekkaJo: They do, they do...and thanks!

>255 FAMeulstee: The trouble is *finding* the older reviews. Which computer was I using? Did I sensibly back up the final review to Google Docs, or was I so sick of looking at it that I just left the draft there and the final on {whichever computer it was}? Which reviews are affected?!? There is NO WAY FOR ME TO TELL unless I just go look day by day, month by month, year by other words, Trollie-pie really, really screwed me.

>254 humouress: An unwanted one. One I'd like to neuter myself...without anesthetic.

Giu 24, 11:27am

>259 SandyAMcPherson: We cross-posted! Thank you most kindly for the validation.

I think it's less being energetic than it is the fact that I'm easily bored and intolerant of boredom at the same time. Luckily, reading has always been my passion.

Pandemicitis is different from the pandemic, but a malady just as real if a lot less lethal.


Modificato: Giu 24, 2:44pm

To my undisguisable joy, the publisher of Three Rooms Press liked my review of their title Disasterama! enough to leave me a message on my blog, and retweet my review come-on!
Three Rooms PressJune 24, 2021 at 2:09 PM
Fantastic review! You really captured the spirit of DISASTERAMA! and what drew Three Rooms Press to publish it! Thanks so much! -Kat Georges, Co-Director, Three Rooms Press

That's made my day...and the fact that their retweet specifically says "go read the review then buy the book" was pretty great, too.

Giu 24, 2:54pm

>262 richardderus: that's excellent. How nice to be appreciated. >:-D

You might like to know that yesterday the new £50 note was launched, featuring Alan Turing. We've come a little way since hounding him to his death. Could do better, mind.

Giu 24, 3:20pm

Modificato: Giu 24, 4:10pm

>264 katiekrug:, >263 Helenliz: Yeah! I am really diggin' it. The fact that she took the time to look at the review and liked it, for itself, was particularly pleasing to my ego.

>263 Helenliz: I got an email from a British queer gentleman of my, um, acquaintance about this last night. I am so delighted that the world has changed so much while I am still around to enjoy it.

It is really lovely to be recognized by the people who make the books as someone whose take is valuable. It can get weird, though, like today's email from a christian publisher's publicist asking me to review Phillip Yancey's memoir! Specifically saying that my unbeliever's take would be especially welcome...that was just WEIRD.

Giu 24, 5:13pm

>262 richardderus: - All thumbs up! Congrats! Well-deserved, too!

Giu 24, 6:37pm

>266 jessibud2: Thank you, Shelley! I'm really made up today. It's really been a good'un.

Giu 24, 7:08pm

>262 richardderus: Lovely validation is lovely!

Giu 24, 8:00pm

>268 quondame: It is, it is...I'm shamelessly elozable.

Giu 25, 9:49am

'Morning, RDear, and happy Friday to you.


Giu 25, 10:10am

Congratulations on the publisher appreciation of your review and enthusiastic re-tweet! That must feel really good.

Happy Friday, compadre. It's a soggy one in the heartland.

Giu 25, 10:40am

>262 richardderus: Congratulations! You're on a real roll. Sorry that troll is still bothering you, though.

Giu 25, 10:46am


Giu 25, 12:31pm

>262 richardderus: all we can do is follow the instructions to go and read and go and buy

Nice one Richard

Modificato: Giu 25, 12:57pm

>274 magicians_nephew: Ha! Thanks, Jim...tell 'em I sent you, k?

>273 weird_O: YUUUMMMMMM

That's a gorgeous sight indeed, Bill!

>272 laytonwoman3rd: Apparently I become lodged in some very twisted minds despite avoiding them for literal decades.

>271 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe, and a happy Friday to you as well. Our resident Miracle Man is among us!

>270 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible! *smooch*

Giu 25, 8:03pm

>262 richardderus: Nice to get recognition. Good on you!

Giu 25, 8:18pm

>273 weird_O: This! This is the picture that sent me, bootlessly as it turned out, to the northern limits of my stomping grounds searching for the French hazelnut pastry. They aren't what they used to be and none was on offer. But, well tomorrow we'll see.

Giu 25, 8:29pm

>277 quondame: I think my work here is done, Susan.

Giu 25, 8:50pm

>273 weird_O: *drool*

>262 richardderus: So cool to get the publisher's response!

And congrats on being on target for your reviews goal. That's fabulous!

Friday *smooches*

Giu 25, 9:11pm

110 Philip Sparrow Tells All by Samuel Steward, edited by Jeremy Mulderig

Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: Samuel Steward (1909–93) was an English professor, a tattoo artist for the Hells Angels, a sexual adventurer who shared the considerable scope of his experiences with Alfred Kinsey, and a prolific writer whose publications ranged from scholarly articles to gay erotica (the latter appearing under the pen name Phil Andros). Perhaps his oddest authorial role was as a monthly contributor between 1944 and 1949 to the Illinois Dental Journal, an obscure trade publication for dentists, where writing as Philip Sparrow he produced a series of charming, richly allusive, and often quirky essays on a wildly eclectic assortment of topics.

In Philip Sparrow Tells All, Jeremy Mulderig has collected thirty of these engaging but forgotten columns, prefacing them with revealing introductions that relate the essays to people and events in Steward’s life and to the intellectual and cultural contexts in which he wrote during the 1940s. In these essays we encounter such famous friends of Steward as Gertrude Stein, André Gide, and Thornton Wilder. We hear of his stint as a holiday sales clerk at Marshall Field’s (where he met and seduced fellow employee Rock Hudson), of his roles as an opera and ballet extra in hilariously shoddy costumes, of his hoarding tendencies, his disappointment with the drabness of men’s fashions, and his dread of turning forty. We go along with him to a bodybuilding competition and a pet cemetery, and together we wander the boulevards of Paris and the alleys of Algiers. Throughout, Mulderig’s entertaining annotations explain the essays’ wide-ranging allusions and also highlight their gay subtext, which constituted a kind of private game that Steward played with his mostly oblivious audience of Midwestern dentists.

The first collection of any of Samuel Steward’s writings to be republished since his death in 1993, Philip Sparrow Tells All makes these lost essays available to a broad readership that Steward imagined but never actually enjoyed when he wrote them. In doing so, it takes a major step toward documenting his important place in twentieth-century gay literature and history.


My Review
: First, read this:
There is a quality to the City of the Big Shoulders that grows on a person, like the taste of a martini, like learning to like pineapple and cottage cheese. There are so many things against it that have to be forgotten. When we first arrived we hated it—the dirty papers flying loosely on the streets, the sprawling quality it had, the "maryann" backs of the apartment houses that you see from the elevated tracks as the train groans and screeches on its way to the Loop. We loathed the dirty clothes hanging on the little wooden back porches, we suffered over the unbelievable squalor and filth of the south-side tenements, the naked babies playing in the mud of the backyards—and the incredible hypocrisy of the bright shops on Michigan Boulevard, and the white lights on the whiter Wrigley Tower.
    from "On Chicago"

Now, go read his Wikipedia page to get a sense of why this basic little twink was a Very, Very Big Deal; it explains a lot when you know he was a literary writer of merit while young, an esteemed literary scholar during middle age, and a pornographer of godlike renown in his later years. Throughout his life he was the proverbial "good time had by all," racking up over eight hundred (800!) sex partners in a Satyr-esque lifetime of over four thousand five hundred (4,500!!) sexual encounters.

He even impressed Alfred Kinsey. (You know, the one Liam Neeson played in that movie, the one you're referencing when you say someone's a "Kinsey 6" or whatever.) His journals and other related materials went to the Kinsey Institute...I'm sure they're still popping students' eyes.

Knowing what we know now of Steward's life and lifestyle, one can't but help wondering rather bemusèdly what the hell the Illinois Dentistry Journal was thinking when they asked Professor Steward to write a column for them. Reading these pieces with modern eyes, it's damned incredible what he was able to get away with saying. But in 1944, when he began this work, he was an outwardly respectable far social media has dragged (!) us into the private lives of all the people we know! A simple Googling, had it existed in 1944, would've made the staid, stolid dentists of Illinois aware that they wouldn't want Steward's hands anywhere near their instruments.

So to speak.

Probably the most fun thing about reading this collection, for me as a gay kid who loved Phil Andros's first-person hustling tales, is the astonishing freedom to camp it up that came from invisibility! There is no single-edged sword, is there. It delighted me to spend time with Uncle Philip (Auntie Philip?) as we went behind the scenes at the Opera...a thing one should really never do with the performing arts, go look behind the curtain, it utterly ruins the illusions and one can not ever recover them.
I showed up at seven, trembling a little. I heard my name called, and within moments was being whisked up the elevator to the fifth floor...where the men dressed. ... The costume master handed me a mustard-colored costume: a pair of breeches, a short bolero jacket, a string of red cheesecloth for a necktie, and a salmon-colored cummerbund to wrap around my manly form. ... Within a short while I discovered that the breeches were size 46, which is a little large for my svelte thirty-inch waist. I was soon madly fumbling at my rear, trying to pull in the straps and pin myself together. ... At last a kind old gentleman saw my troubles. "Come here," he said. He applied two safety pins, took an extra-long cummerbund, and twirled me into it. Then he took two three-inch folds in my rear, and warned me not to turn my backside to the audience. And we went down to the stage, where a little man rubbed our cheeks briefly with bright rouge, and with a black eyebrow pencil gave us romantic sideburns, and let us go.
    from "On Operas and Operating"

It's like being backstage again...the bit about the cummerbund, for the uninitiated, is precisely accurate. One cannot put on a real cummerbund solo. One needs a deft companion to hold the long cloth at precise and varying angles while one (gracelessly, in my case) twirls and the cummer does its bunding of your trousers. Excellent practice for diapering a toddler, I note for those who might benefit from this knowledge.

One of my mother's cultural touchstones, and thus mine by osmosis, was the inimitable food writer M.F.K. Fisher. She introduced the concept of Dining to many an aspiring flyover-country lassie like Mama. If you have never encountered her lapidary prose, and her conoisseur's eye for what makes a meal A Feast, please do not read the rest of this review until you've procured and at least sampled The Measure of Her Powers or The Art of Eating, which last title is free to read for Amazon Prime members! Oh, don't just take my word for it; read Philip Sparrow's "On How to Cook a Wolf" to get the arch, exquisite Friend-of-Dorothy look at the medieval table's, ermmm, pleasures. There is a recipe to cook a wolf! Fisher quotes it, so does Auntie; and then, in the dropping-of-hairpins to end them all, says this:
For my part, I cannot rest until I find a wolf to try it. Unfortunately, there is in these parts a scarcity of the four-legged kind, so I have a notion to call up "Esquire Escorts" Bonded Male and Female Escorts for All Occasions and ask them to send me out an unbonded one, a tall, husky, grey-eyed blond of the two-legged variety. Then, clutching my trusty cudgel, I'll lay him flat as he enters the door, and set to work.
    from "On How to Cook a Wolf"

Whoa, Nelly! (or nelly, I suppose) That's pretty darned Out for that day and time...and his audience wouldn't've known that a "wolf" in the time's gay argot was a studly muffin who did boys on the side, like the current term "trade" covers. Sam Steward was a twink, thin and blond and very much a bottom in today's parlance. He was also a genuine masochist, he liked the leathers and the games of dominance and submission too...but mostly, in his own time, he was invisible as a gay man because there wasn't a large group of people aware of such beings existing among them...and it shows, as we say now.

What I think you might wonder, you poor benighted straight person who happened across my blog, is how the hell you're supposed to be in on the joke when I might as well be speaking Croatian to you right now. Editor Mulderig to the rescue! Everything I've just told you is on the page with the article I'm quoting. It's not called out in a's just printed at the bottom of the page and references to the place in the text are in italics to call your attention, eg:
a wolf to try it. In the urban parlance of the early twentieth century, ...

This is, after all, an academic press; one must expect academicians have worked their magic on the obscure points in the text. It's hugely helpful; it's unobtrusive; and in the end it added immeasurably to my pleasure in the read.

That said, the pleasure was one I felt inclined to prolong. One, sometimes two, pieces back-to-back; selected on whim, or mood, not in chronological order; thus it took about four times as long to read the whole text as it would have had it been a novel or other form of narrative. The articles, their subjects, the gestalt of the pieces being written for dentists who almost certainly were innocent of any knowledge of what Auntie Philip was really saying, the biographical detail that the author had serious hotness for the editor he was working for; all of it makes this 256-page slenderness of a treat so much more delicious than most summer reads you can buy.

Just spread the pleasure out over more time and savor the spicy scent of cakes long since baked and tea long since served.

Giu 25, 10:49pm

>279 bell7: Hiya Mary! Thanks for the well-wishes on my targeting. It wasn't a huge stretch from last year so I'll take that on board for setting next year's goal. If I blow this one out, maybe a bigger stretch....


>278 weird_O:, >277 quondame: :-)

>276 Familyhistorian: Thank you most kindly, Meg, I'm well-pleased indeed.

Giu 26, 9:04am

Hiya RD! Not much to report from central NC except for a good cup of coffee and a few books around here to choose from after I finish Death of a Dude, #44 of 47.


Giu 26, 12:02pm

>262 richardderus: Congratulations, Richard!!! I'm gratified that publishers are recognizing what we have known all along - your reviews are the ideal!

Giu 26, 12:09pm

Happy Saturday, Richard. Pouring like crazy out here, so no birding for me today and we are attending a family reunion this afternoon. It will be outdoors, so I am hoping for a tent and a break in the rain.

Modificato: Giu 26, 12:19pm

>284 msf59: ...or wear an excellent raincoat...but anyway, drinking heavily will solve all problems that accompany going to family reunions. Enjoy, despite the birdlessness of it all.

>283 LizzieD: *smooch* Thanks, Peggy, that's so kind of you.

>282 karenmarie: *smooch* Have fun a-Neroing.

Giu 26, 12:44pm

>273 weird_O: OMG, is that tiramisu? *crave* Or, as my MIL calls it, TammyMeSue.

Giu 26, 3:22pm

Hi, RD.

Sounds like Philip Sparrow could give Wilt Chamberlain a run for the record on number of sexual exploits. How did he find the time and energy to write?! I do like that excerpted description of Chicago.

I hope you’re having a good weekend. It’s pouring buckets here, and we’re under a tornado watch. The alert system sent us to the basement, where luckily we have lots of books and a good TV. We watched the old (2000) Korean movie “In the Mood for Love”. Beautiful movie - slow paced, moving and visually a stunner.

Giu 26, 5:33pm

>278 weird_O: I was foiled. Mike agreed to pick up dinner at my favorite restaurant, the only local Bosnian place, and came home with a bag full of cookies and chocolate bars, so going for more pastry will have to be an adventure for a later date.

Giu 26, 6:05pm

>288 quondame:, >286 laytonwoman3rd: :-)

>287 jnwelch: Well, to be fair, Sparrow/Steward was sexually active until the 1980s after starting in the 1920s. Can pack a lot of experience into sixty-plus years. It's so poignant that he lived to see the beginning of gay rights battles and not the success of it.

He was all set to be a major writer, but his gayness and the inability to be himself in the zeitgeist contributed to his alcoholic decline. Over ten years of heavy drinking and some vital thing just...drowned. He did make some top-notch porn in later years.

Not quite the same thing, though, is it.

Giu 26, 9:54pm

Network Effect has won Best Science Fiction Novel at the 2021 Locus Awards!

Ring Shout has won Best Novella at the 2021 Locus Awards!

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories has won Best Collection at the 2021 Locus Awards!

A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking has won Best Young Adult Novel at the 2021 Locus Awards!

These were the ones I reviewed and had in my mind as the best choices in their categories. I am delighted for the winners in their richly deserved success!

Giu 26, 10:14pm

I just got The Hidden Girl and Other Stories from the library and have enjoyed the others. Good choices!

Giu 26, 11:08pm

>291 quondame: Thanks, Susan. I was disappointed with a few choices...I'm not sure the anthology made a better choice than Dominion and I did read both...

Giu 26, 11:30pm

>292 richardderus: Dominion ticks off my avoid list of 20th cent alt-history which is mainly Nazis won stuff. Although I do recall White Lotus which is same-different and seems to have disappeared from modern consciousness.

Giu 27, 3:41am

Giu 27, 4:16am

I have A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking as part of my birthday/thingaversary book haul. A title like that was just a too good to miss! Not read it yet - that's step 2...

Giu 27, 8:44am

Hiya, RD! Happy Sunday. I hope you have a coffee-licious day.

Giu 27, 1:13pm

No chance I'll make it all the way to the 30th with a thread that's already this overstuffed. So here's the new one!

Giu 27, 3:29pm

>294 richardderus: Makes more sense. Still that was your Touchstone, so there.
Questa conversazione è stata continuata da richardderus's tenth 2021 thread.