asakiyume: (far horizon)
Hey, it's Wednesday, and I've actually read a thing: A Stranger in Olondria. I'm going to write up a review of it, because I ended up loving it; I think it's an amazing book, beautifully, powerfully told--and that's not what I went in thinking, or even what I was feeling in the first fifth of the book. Early on I had the impression that it was an admirable book that I was going to effortfully work my way through, but my mind completely, totally changed, so much so that by the end, this passage about coming to the end of a book--used as a heartbreaking analogy for final separation--was exactly how I felt:
Earlier, frightened, you began to have some intimation of it: so many pages had been turned, the book was so heavy in one hand, so light in the other, thinning toward the end. Still, you consoled yourself. You were not quite at the end of the story, at that terrible flyleaf, blank like a shuttered window: there were still a few pages under your thumb, still to be sought, treasured. Oh, was it possible to read more slowly?--No. The end approached, inexorable, at the same measured pace. The last page, the last of the shining words! And there--the end of the book.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
I finished the Timor book, Eden to Paradise. It continued as it had begun, being very satisfying when it was talking about Timorese customs and lifeways and very irksome when the author's biases became too intrusive. Do people still use the word "pacification" unselfconsciously, when talking about colonial adventures? And she's got a section where she talks about how hard it is for the Portuguese administrator to deal with all the Timorese interpersonal conflicts. Oh hey, I know a way to solve that... But anyway. It was still genuinely great to have a look at how people were living so long ago.

A few interesting short stories:

In Apex Magazine, "Field Biology of the Wee Fairies," by Naomi Kritzer, available to read free here.

It starts out in a way I found unpromising: spunky science-interested girl in 1962 doesn't care about getting a fairy the way all the Other Girls do--but then it surprised and delighted me by where it went next.

In Fireside Magazine, "The Ceremony," by Mari Ness, available to read free here.

It's a flash fiction take on Sleeping Beauty from a weird-creepy, but not horrifying, perspective.

In It Happened at the Ball, the first story, "The Siret Mask," by Marie Brennan. Available for purchase from multiple venues, links at the bottom of the page here.

This is an excellent tale of concealed identities--good for a story about a mask--and transformations, featuring a dashing thief. I particularly loved the details of one costume change--I always wonder how masters of disguise manage it, and this showed how!

And the promo! Annorlunda Books is offering Vanessa Fogg's beautiful The Lilies of Dawn for just 99 cents with proof of a preorder or (after October 10) purchase of my novelette, The Inconvenient God. Details here. Look at these covers together!

asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
More Timor ca. 1960:
They also chant "songs of instruction" to the trees before they are hewn down, asking that they provide strong supports for the house and allow no harm to come to the family who will ultimately live within; and there are songs to encourage the Nautilus pompilius, to leave their sea bed and decorate the roofs of the most important houses with their shells.

That is a mighty fine tradition, and I wish we had it here. (I wonder if they still have it there.)

Here's a picture taken in 2006 by Flickr user giantpandinha of a house going up in Timor-Leste

On the rooftop

And here's another by her from the same year, looking up at those strong supports:

Solid house

There are different styles of house in different parts of Timor, but the ones King was talking about are the very distinctive house of Lospalos. Here's a photo taken in 1988 by Flickr user incitio.vacations

Raca Village, Los Palos - Timor Leste
asakiyume: (Em reading)
I'm reading through Eden to Paradise, by Margaret King. She was an anthropologist, and this book, published in 1963, describes her time in what was then Portuguese Timor. I'm excited to read it because there's not a whole lot that's easily available to me about Timorese lifeways prior to independence. But oh holy wow to the wowth, this woman is self-satisfied, self-congratulatory, and casually racist like you wouldn't believe. (Actually, you would probably believe it.) I kept on mentally thinking I was reading something from the 1930s or something and then having to remind myself that this was the 1960s. Her attitudes seem just so... ugh. It made me curious about the woman herself, and it turns out she was born in 1922, so her notions probably reflect the era in which she was raised.

For all that she condescends massively toward the Timorese (and then is irritated when a Chinese man condescends to her, ah, yes, feels different in that direction, doesn't it), she clearly likes Timorese culture, and when she's talking about fishing practices or dances or things like that, you can brush aside her condescending remarks and just enjoy the thing she's talking about:
The Timorese women work long hours planting out the seedling rice and as each paddy is completed a long banner of bamboo, browned leaves waving in the slightest breeze, is raised as the signal to all who pass by of the successful beginning to another season. The paddies stand ranked in tiers one above the other, protected by their dry stone walls or earthen banks. These signals of bamboo are reminiscent of the scarecrows standing so solemnly in the fields of Europe to guard the newly planted grains, yet they have one enchanting difference, for, while the European scarecrows are either menacing or pathetic in their dilapidation, the bamboo signals wave gaily to everyone.

But oh man, when she's going on about herself, or when she's trying to wax poetic, she's just awful! Try not to choke on the self-congratulation in this excerpt:
Never having bothered very much about nationalities, preferring always to judge people as individuals,* it was a strange experience to be accepted as a compatriot by four different nationalities in one day. To make matters even more interesting the four races were widely divergent and, after the third encounter, I did begin to wonder whether I possessed the characteristics of a chameleon.

She's mistaken for Portuguese because of her fair skin, for Kashmiri because she knows about Kashmiri music, for Chinese because she quotes the poetry of Po Chü-i and Ou Yang Hsiu, and Timorese because she plays two Timorese tunes from memory on a Timorese flute. See how **special** she is?

The copy I have does have a lovely cover, however. Wakanomori found it in a used bookstore in England and presented it to me without comment--and I could tell by the houses and the woman's face that it was Timor. (Hmm, a little self-congratulation of my own, heh. So easy to criticize others; so hard to acknowledge the same flaws in myself)



*Not true: she remarks on everyone's nationality and talks about whether they adhere to her notion of the national stereotype.
asakiyume: (miroku)
Since finishing Too Like the Lightning, my mind has been burning up thinking about it. There are elements of the story that made me wonder if I wanted to read further in the series, but after a few days, I can say yes, I do, in part because I want to see what the author’s going to do with those elements.

I thought I could talk here about three things the book brought up for me. Maybe parcel them out over a few entries. Those three things are (1) Flavors of Divinity; Or, What Makes a God? (2) Will a Powerful Enough Computer Result in Unerring Predictions? And (3) Asking the Wrong Questions: Yet Another Asakiyume Rant on the Trolley Problem.

So this entry is for (1). In lots of stories, a god is basically a being who’s much more powerful than your ordinary human. Gods often also rule over and/or protect some collection of ordinary humans—and sometimes menace others. They’re like people, only with higher stats. As the witch says in The Silver Chair, “You have seen lamps, and so you imagined a bigger and better lamp and called it the sun. You’ve seen cats, and now you want a bigger and better cat, and it’s to be called a lion.”—same with gods.

Sometimes a deity’s motivations and thought processes are inscrutable, but usually, when we’re talking about these stat-enhanced creatures, they’re very, very easy to scrute.

But in some fiction, the gods are ineffable, mystical. The story may not specify how powerful they are, because that’s not where the interest is; the gods are there for wisdom and communion. This type of god may be intimate with humans or may be remote, but whatever the nature of the relationship, they’re definitely not simply more-better mortals.

I can enjoy stories with either type of god in it but what I don’t think I like very much is mixing the two; I guess I have an instinct I’m not going to like the two flavors together, so to speak? ETA--maybe because it represents two different kinds of worldbuilding? Or two different types of thinking on divinity?

But I’m also thinking maybe I’ve got too restrictive a taxonomy here. Maybe there are other, different ways of depicting gods in stories that are neither of these two and not just a mixing of them, either.

So… that’s one thing I’m curious about, going forward in the Terra Ignota series.
asakiyume: (the source)
Before we went to the Everglades in 2016, I started reading Marjory Stoneman Douglas's seminal work on it, River of Grass. It was not only hugely informative but beautifully written. At that time, I discovered that she'd written novel for young people (I think we'd call it middle grade, these days) called Freedom River (originally published 1953). It takes place just before Florida becomes a state and features three boys: a White boy, a Black escaped slave boy, and a Miccosukee boy. I was curious to read it for all sorts of reasons, including an idiosyncratic one: a 1994 reissue has illustrations by a cousin of mine (first cousin once removed; he's my dad's age).

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was born in 1890 and lived to be 108; in addition to being a tenacious environmentalist, she was also an advocate for women's rights and a charter member of the ACLU in the South. In 1948, appalled to learn there was no running water in the Black sections of racially segregated Coconut Grove, she helped set up a loan program so that the community could be connected to the sewer system and helped pass a law that no houses in Miami could be built without toilets. (Thanks go to Wikipedia for all this information.)

So--she was a social activist. But she was already in her sixties in the 1950s. So it's been very interesting, so far, to see how she handles this story of these three boys.

man, this got long )

So... that's a lot of thoughts for a children's novel that I'm only halfway through. Oh! And yes, I picked it up again because Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School being in the news reminded me that I owned it and hadn't yet read it.
asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)
I finished this and was deeply satisfied by it. I was in tears at the end! What a creative, compassionate well-constructed story.

What I really want to do is gloat about figuring out how the story would end, but I can't do that without spoiling it for people who are reading it or who might want to read it, and I have to say, I really enjoyed figuring things out on my own, and I want other people to have that pleasure too. So here's a link to my Goodreads review, which hides talk about the outcome under a spoiler cut.

It's really all that science fiction can be--this is why I like science fiction!

... And from a craft perspective, I really liked how Tchaikovsky seeded the story so that what bore fruit made sense: nothing happened that wasn't set up. Lots of webs of connection ;-)

I had quibbles about some things--at times some of the human characters' behavior was a bit bewildering to me--but those just fade away before my pleasure in the overall book.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
Oh look! It's Wednesday, it's before I start work (... barely), so I can do this.


What I'm reading now: Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time, a science fiction novel that follows two parallel stories: on the one hand, the story of spiders on a terraformed planet who are "elevated" by a nanovirus that had been intended to speed-evolve monkeys (the monkeys all died), and on the other, the last remnants of humanity, on a ... not quite generation ship, but one of those ships where you spend all your thousands of years in deep freeze, only woken up at key moments. The ship finds the green and pleasant terraformed planet, but it's guarded by the armed-and-dangerous uploaded (and now mad) mind of the scientist whose project it is, and she doesn't want them interfering.

Spider society keeps on developing in truly creative ways--the directions their science takes, their manners of communication, the threats they face--really fascinating. What if scientific advances relied more on chemistry than physics? And of course there's commentary on human social problems, as the spiders deal with their versions of freedom of scientific inquiry and universal spider rights. Most reviews I've come across have preferred the spider side of the story to the human side, but I find the human side very poignant and gripping too, as the suspicion, territoriality, and self-aggrandizement that plague our species blossom even in this last-stand group that are are all that remain. (I say "even," but why wouldn't they? I mean, they're human traits...) I'm about 60 percent in.

What I just finished: A Cup of Friendship. The author, Deborah Rodriguez, has written a memoir, Kabul Beauty School, about her time teaching at the eponymous beauty school, and she also did co-own a coffee shop in Kabul. This story is fiction, but it's clearly informed by familiarity with the location and affection for the various people, Afghans and non-Afgans alike. It was a pleasant read, but I found myself chafing, and when I asked myself why, I decided it was because there were too many story lines for my taste and a consequent underdevelopment (to my mind) of all of them. I liked the richness of her details, her insights, and her ways of sketching in the characters; I think I would have enjoyed the book moreif she had gone deeper into fewer.

What I'll maybe read next: Semiosis, by Sue Burke. It's about very alien life again; I think it would be a good complement to Children of Time.

And now I'd better get to work...
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
In the last entry, [personal profile] osprey_archer, [personal profile] sovay, and I got to talking (thread here) about the background premise of Every Heart a Doorway--namely, that there could be some kind of special school for young people who can't readjust to life in our world after having an adventure in another world. I realized I had some questions that go beyond that particular novella.

(1) Where does the notion that a portal adventure leaves you messed up come from? Is it all down to the fact of not being able to return to the magical world? What examples of this are there from portal fantasies themselves--excluding portal fantasies that are written as responses to other portal fantasies precisely to explore this point?

(2) In cases where the protagonists lose the ability to get back to the magical world, what elements make that most hard to deal with? To me, arbitrary limitations (like age-based ones) are more distressing than plot exigency ones (the latter being things like having to return to our world after your task in the other one is complete). Y/N? Random inexplicability is also troubling (thinking of people in folklore who have one taste of faery and then spend the rest of their lives trying to find a way to get another taste).

(3) Supposing a bunch of people who've traveled to other worlds did come together for mutual support, what kind of story would you imagine arising for them in that context?
asakiyume: (black crow on a red ground)
Have people read this? I had heard about it and was mildly curious because of the child protagonist, but not curious enough to overcome my dislike of zombie stories. Then I read Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone's comments on the movie (here), which really interested me--so I read it.

I reviewed it on Goodreads. I did indeed like Melanie, the young protagonist. As expected, I didn't much care for a lot of the mainstay things that you apparently need to have in a zombie/horror story, but I could just page on by.

The thing that got me was the ending--so this discussion should only be for people who've either read the book/seen the movie or don't mind spoilers.

Discussion about the ending )
asakiyume: (Em reading)






I have a good collection of things on the go/just finished.

Just Finished
The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant. It's a novel in the form of reminiscences of an 85-year-old Jewish grandmother, Addy, talking to her granddaughter, Ada, in 1985. It was delightful. The voice reminded me so much of my own grandmother's voice, even though my grandmother was Italian, not Jewish. The picture of immigrant life in Boston in the 1910s and 1920s felt absolutely genuine to me because my grandmother has said similar things. I liked Addy tremendously. Here's a quote--she's reminiscing about a camp that she was lucky to be able to attend in her teens:

It was so quiet that I could hear the bees buzzing around the roses and a bird singing from far away. Someone upstairs called, "Has anyone seen my hairbrush?" In the kitchen there was chopping. Every sound was separate--like framed pictures on a wall. I thought, Aha! This is what you call peace and quiet.



Currently Reading

Breath of Stone, by Blair MacGregor
This is the second in the Desert Rising series, a fantasy of political intrigue in a harsh desert setting, where the rulers have dangerous charisma and some are trying to recapture godlike powers that had devastating effects in the past. It's *very* gripping. I'm at about the 40 percent mark.

Ruby on the Outside, by Nora Raleigh Baskin

This is a short, middle-grade book about Ruby, a eleven-year-old whose mother is in prison. She's been a loner, but this summer she's becoming friends with a new girl, Margalit, whose family--though Ruby hasn't figured this out yet at the point I'm at--is somehow connected with her mother's case. (Seems her mother was coerced by her husband--not sure yet whether this is Ruby's father [ETA: read a little further--he's not Ruby's father]--into something drug related.)


So far the details about prison visits ring VERY true to my tangential experience, and Ruby's tentative negotiation of this new friendship feel right too. I'm only about 20 percent in; when I finish, I'm going to leave it in the free books/libros gratis rack at the jail. There's always a varied assortment there; kids really do take them. I don't know who ordinarily stocks it, or if it's all by people like me: I try to leave new things for various ages now and then.

Iris Grace, by Arabella Carter-Johnson

I won this gorgeous hardback book in a Goodreads giveaway. It's the story of Iris Grace, a child in England on the autism spectrum, and her parents' attempts to help her adjust to and flourish in the world. Art turns out to be one way: Iris loves to paint, and the book is full of full-color reproductions of her paintings. I could look at them all day, and also the loving photos of Iris herself, taken by her mother, who is a professional photographer.


As for the text, I have complicated, but mainly positive feelings. Arabella does a great job at conveying both her love for her daughter and her feelings of being at her wits' end, of arriving at something that seems to be working only to push too hard and have a setback, and then be filled with remorse. All that makes me feel warmly toward her. I guess it's just that I have a wee bit of vicarious resentment on the part of all the parents of neuroatypical children who don't have the resources that Arabella and her husband have.

Didn't Finish

The Silver Curlew, by Eleanor Farjeon

I really loved what [livejournal.com profile] sovay posted about this book here, and [livejournal.com profile] shewhomust has a great post on the book, too. But, for me, the book had a large helping of whimsy of a sort that I never liked as a kid and can't manage to plow through even now, even though I know there's luminous beauty in the story too.



asakiyume: (Em reading)






So I've been spending a little time volunteering with some high school students who are doing intensive online learning to collect the credits they need to graduate. They do get some facetime with teachers, though, and I'm there to help with writing and reading. For the state proficiency exam, you need to be able to talk about something you've read (you know the sorts of questions).

For a serious read, we've started working on Peas and Carrots, a really excellent book by Tanita Davis about two high school girls: one is a foster kid (a girl) and the other is the same-age daughter in the family she's come to stay with. The characters are really likable and the situation is really real without being awesomely depressing. (Short review here.)


But for fun, they're reading the Spanish-language edition of Ann Aguirre's best-selling Enclave, the first novel in a dystopian YA trilogy, and I'm reading along in English. (Many big thanks to Ann Aguirre, who **sent me** multiple copies of all three novels, in Spanish. The kids in this program are almost entirely Puerto Rican, and so it's fun to have something to read that's not as much of a struggle as an English-langauge book can be.)


I haven't actually read much dystopian YA (I read Nicole Kornher-Stace's Archivist Wasp, which I loved, but I can't think of other titles), and I have to say, I'm really enjoying this. At the beginning, the main character, Deuce, has only just been given her name--and her role: huntress. There are three things you can be in her underground community: hunter, builder, or breeder.

Last time I was in, only one of the girls I've been working with was there, but we talked a little about the book. I asked her which of the three roles she'd like to have, and, unsurprisingly, she said huntress. I asked her why, and she said because you get to go places and see more things--a great reason, and actually one of the things Deuce likes about being a huntress. We talked a little about what qualities you'd need to be a good huntress, and then I asked her what she'd want to be if she couldn't be a hunter.

"Definitely not a breeder," she said, with feeling.

"Oh yeah? Why not?" I asked.

"Because you have to give birth!" she said.

"Which is bad because it's ... painful?" I asked. I know she has a two-year-old, so she knows what it's like to give birth, but I didn't want to assume that was what she was meaning.

She looked at me with mild astonishment.

"Miss, do you have kids?" she asked.

"Yes I do! Guess how many."

"Two," she said.

"Nope."

"Three."

"Uh-uh."

"One?"

"No..."

"Five?"

At which point I relented and told her it was four, and agreed that giving birth was painful.

"Do you think you'd ever like to have another kid?" I asked.

She most decidedly did not want to have another, not even when she was older, she said. That makes sense as a reaction, though it's definitely not the reaction that all the teen mothers have. But for sure it's easier to finish school, go on for more education, and/or get a job if you don't have a tiny baby to take care of.





asakiyume: (Em reading)






I like that we're getting Harriet Tubman on our money! I am in favor of having a wide variety of significant figures on the currency. Japan has Natsume Soseki, the novelist, on its money, and England has Charles Darwin.

We've been reading (very slowly) Terry Pratchett's Making Money as a family read, and we came to the scene where the mind-wiped counterfeiter Owlswick (at this point known as Clamp), whom Moist has hired to create the first official Ankh-Morpork banknote, presents it:

On the desk in front of him was the other side of the first proper dollar bill ever to be designed. Moist had seen pictures quite like it, but they had been when he was four years old, in nursery school. The face of what was presumably meant to be Lord Vetinari had two dots for eyes and a broad grin. The panorama of the vibrant city of Ankh-Morpork appeared to consist of a lot of square houses, with a window, all square, in each corner and a door in the middle.

"I think it's one of the best things I have ever done," said Clamp.

I couldn't resist doodling it.



asakiyume: (misty trees)
The Dubious Hills is mysterious, powerful, paradoxical story. It’s both very small (milk pans left outside, dogs sleeping on a doorstep, planting beans while school’s out) and very, very big (the nature of knowledge, pain, and freedom and compulsion). It’s a story that directly addresses philosophical questions while at the same time making you remember what it’s like to be five years old (or live with a five-year-old). It’s about coping with abandonment and loss; it’s about struggling to care for your little brother and sister in the face of a terrifying threat.

Read more... )






asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Today's Dinosaur Comics takes on that painful experience, the rereading of a childhood favorite and the discovery that it's not at all the book you remembered. A lot of times in SFF circles I see this talked about in terms of tripping over biases or stereotypes that you didn't notice or question when you were younger, though sometimes people also talk tone or writing style disappointing them on a reread. But Ryan North gets at a more fundamental fact of rereading--that our experience of a story isn't determined entirely by the text.

Original location is here



asakiyume: (feathers on the line)






I've started The Dubious Hills by [livejournal.com profile] pameladean, and even just a few pages in, I find it wonderful in ways that are difficult to articulate. There's the intimate scope: the focal character, Arry, lives in a very small community, where everyone has been intimately connected all her life. Partly it's the small details of that life--milk spilled on the floor for cats to lap up, hair cut to get rid of burrs (a necessity I remember from my own childhood). But a bigger reason is the way people understand and speak about things in the book, and therefore how it's conveyed to us, the readers:

According to Halver, today was the first day of May in the four-hundredth year since doubt descended. According to Wim, it was the second hour after dawn. But since dawn in its wandering way moved about, back and forth over the same small span of hours like a child looking for a dropped button, some of the leisured scholars at Heathwill Library (according to Mally they were leisured, according to Halver they were scholars, according to Sune there was indeed a structure called Heathwill Library) had named all the hours of the day from their own heads without regard to the shifting of the sun.

This lineage of information, and transmitting it with the authorities appended, I love.

I blame it for inspiring the following thoughts on clocks, analog clocks:

Analog clocks are like sportscasters or simultaneous translators: they're telling you about a thing (the passage of time) as it's happening, and in the exact amount of time it happens in. It takes a second hand the whole of a second to tell you that a second's gone by, and it take a minute hand a whole minute to tell you a minute's gone by. Analog clocks are like a v-e-r-y gross-grained book of all things that are happening right now: no specifics, but the biggest possible picture: time is passing. I remember hearing somewhere that time measurement is the weirdest of measurements, because when the measurement is accomplished, the time is lost. This doesn't happen when you measure the weight of flour or the distance between New York and Los Angeles. Imagine if those things were gone if you once measured them. Imagine if the only way to know about the weight of flour were to eat it.

And with that thought, I'm back to work. But by the way, both The Dubious Hills and Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary, which had been out of print, are now in print again. Details here.





asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
On Friday at the jail I was noticing how much they announce you're coming--each stage of the way. "Central control, one volunteer up to you," says the guy at the main desk, and then "One volunteer in the sally port," says the guy at central control," and then "Programs, one volunteer in the elevator," and so on. It made me feel, yesterday, like the fulfillment of a very short-term prophecy.

And speaking of sally ports, did you know--I did not, until I Google-searched the word just now--that although the relevant definition in this instance is "a secure entryway (as at a prison) that consists of a series of doors or gates," the first definition is "a gate or passage in a fortified place for use by troops making a sortie," and that if you look up images you will find lots of castles? Yes indeed. Whereas, the sally port at the jail has always made me think of a space station's airlock. One heavy metal door opens, you go in, it shuts, and you're in a tiny room. Then the heavy metal door on the other side opens, and you're inside the jail proper.

(Not only was my coming foretold, but I have an invisible ultraviolet stamp on my hand. I don't know what it says because I can't see it. It's like a stamp admitting you to a club, only really it's to let you **leave** the club, because most people can't. Hotel California and all that.)

And speaking of prophecies, I was talking to one woman about a book she was reading, and as she described the action and the main character's situation, I realized it was a retelling of the Iliad from Cassandra's point of view. It was Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley. So that was really fun and cool. I have not actually ever read any Marion Zimmer Bradley, but maybe I'll read that one, because she's going to write an essay on it. It's long though, wow. Maybe I'll just dip in here and there.


asakiyume: (Em reading)






best pasta
My favorite shape of pasta is long fusilli.

One supermarket I go to has it (the one with the Lenten ideas, actually), but the near supermarket doesn't. I bought lots of packages last time I was at the one supermarket, and last night we had some. I love-love-love the feel in my mouth.

Do you have a favorite shape of pasta?

Knife throwee or lion's mouth?

A cafe in a nearby town has old board games for patrons to play. We didn't play any, but one that I noticed was called something like "Which would you rather?" where I guess you must have to choose between various alternatives. The one featured on the box was, "Which would you rather be, the person in the circus that the knife thrower throws knives at, or the one who puts their head in the lion's mouth?" [livejournal.com profile] wakanomori and I chose opposite, but we both had good reasons. How about you?

Owl in Love

I'm reading this fun YA book that was first published in 1993. It's told by 14-year-old Owl, who is a girl by day and an owl by night. Her narrative voice is fabulous, like when she describes her human parents, who are hedge witches.

My parents are very, very honest. The would never sell a charm, no, not even the merest good-luck piece, if they did not believe it gave good value for money. On the other hand, they are both blessed with an optimistic and uncritical nature, so they are able to offer quite a large line of goods with a clear conscience.


Letter L
My keyboard isn't responding well to my attempt to press the L key. I keep on having to go back and type it harder.

Balance
Did you know it's harder to balance on one foot if you have your eyes closed? It is.

... I think that'll do for now.... I'll be back; I have to go pick up a pizza.


asakiyume: (cloud snow)
Thank you, everyone, for your good wishes last entry. The healing angel is recovering quite nicely, though still with lingering joint pain. Hope that goes away for him. This week is winter vacation, so that gives him more time to recuperate without missing more school (he's already missed two weeks).

In English he's supposed to be reading The Kite Runner. Although I was pleasantly surprised by his last book, Angela's Ashes, this one is every bit as awesomely depressing as Good-for-You English-class books come. We've been reading it out loud, and to get us through the current chapter (we're still in the very early part of the book), we together created a drinking game--but with the drink being ginger ale.

Behold:



The check marks represent how many times the thing in question came up (and consequently how many times we took a drink). Hassan is the narrator's childhood playmate and servant, whom the narrator treats rottenly. The narrator's got Big Regret about this as the adult telling the story, but right now we've been working up to whatever Really Terrible thing he's going to do to Hassan. Hence drinking game prompt no. 1: take a drink every time the narrator makes a dark allusion to the thing that made him what he is today.

Drinking game prompt no. 2 and no. 4 are self-explanatory. No. 3 is my shorthand for "disappointment in failing to receive his father's love"--the narrator's father is emotionally distant and not very interested in his son. Drinking game prompt no. 5, Hazaras, means take a drink every time Hazaras, the despised ethnic group that Hassan belongs to, are mentioned.

(In writing this entry I went and looked at a plot summary to see just how bad a thing we're in for. Oh. My. God.)

Let's change the subject. Here is a photo of a fire hydrant with a metal marker on it. It looks sort of like the hydrant is a child holding a balloon. If the snow gets high, the idea is that the metal marker is still visible, so (a) snowplows will be careful and (b) people will dig it out. As you can see, one of the neighbors did indeed dig it out. Thank you, civic-minded neighbor!



For a couple of years, someone or ones went around bending and twisting the markers . . . but that person (or those people) must have lost interest in that very mild form of troublemaking, because there's the marker, tall and straight.


asakiyume: (Hades)
You dip into a book, and the part you read happens to be an iconic part of the story.

... I don't actually know if the part I read is iconic, but I bet it is. I just bet.

The book, which I've never read, is Angela's Ashes. The healing angel has to read it for school and doesn't want to, so I said, We'll read 20 minutes tonight. (That was last night.) Then this afternoon when he got home from school, I quit work for ten minutes to read another little bit. Yesterday the two brothers had to pick up leftover bits of coal from the street to light their Christmas fire, and their bag had a hole in in it, so the coal kept falling out, and then it started to rain. The rain was the icing on the cake of desolation, and we laughed like the heartless creatures we are at the awfulness.

That wasn't the moment that I think was iconic though. It was when the dad tells them that their new baby brother was brought for them by an angel who left the baby on the seventh step. Seventh from the top or the bottom of the stairs, the narrator asks. The top, the dad explains, because angels come down from heaven, not up from someplace as miserable as their flooded kitchen. And later the narrator sits on that stair waiting for the angel and imagining talking to him.

... That was beautiful and I figure it has to be iconic. Just chance that the healing angel (speaking of angels) should pick that section.


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