What I'm reading now: 13 February 14

I had really and truly believed that I was going to be finished the book by now, but no. Book in question is The God-fearer, by Dan Jacobson, and for all that it's a small book (160 pp), it's taking me a rather a long time. (This may have something to do with the fact that it travels with me in my backpack, underneath the current knitting project.) Now that I look at it, I realize I only have another seven pages to go.

Pardon me one moment.

*pages turn*

Right. So.

Picture a man, eighty years old, not entirely clear about the present, but very clear indeed about the past, now suddenly haunted by two child-like apparations. Kobus is baffled, and casting his mind back over the years, finds an incident from his youth that might explain these ghosts. He relives that time and considers again his actions then, weighing the past against the possible alternatives. The writing is deceptively simple and beautiful, and I can understand why it was shortlisted for a Whitbread Prize.


Akron: 13 February 13: Short takes

So, because I can't seem to sit down and write a focused blog post, a few short takes.

1. The cold that has been attacking me since Friday afternoon is beginning to abate, to the point where I feel like I can think again. I also feel rather less like a walking pestilence factory. Needless to say, the hand sanitizer and the disinfectant wipes have seen considerable use these last three days.

2. The Honda President's Day Sale commercial that's been running is stop-and-stare weird. Think Abraham Lincoln and George Washington singing a boy-band number, backed by the Revolutionary-War-era fife and drum trio. It does not compute, especially with the cars scattered over the set - and the special effects are the work of underachievers.

3. Knitting is fun! I'm figuring out the details of the next two knitting projects, and I'm not even finished the current project. (Although I have some serious amounts of knitting time blocked out for the weekend, so who knows?)  Perhaps we'll pop in at a WallyWorld tonight to look for supplies.

4. Memo to weather: make up your mind - winter or spring? It keeps flipping back and forth across the freezing point, and I keep thinking, "Look, if you're going to act like spring, you're only allowed to dish out one snowstorm or major freezing rain burst." What can I say - Manitoba weather has spoiled me.

What I'm reading now: 13 February 07

A ticket to the boneyard: I've read all the Matt Scudder series by Lawrence Block ages ago. (The most recent one was published in 2011, but the series more or less ended in 2005 with All the Flowers are Dying; 2011's A drop of the hard stuff is a flashback novel.) However, I've been spending too much time staring at a screen, and a copy of A ticket to the boneyard was sitting right there on my coffee table, so I reread it. I'm glad I did. Matt Scudder is an alcoholic in recovery, an ex-cop, and an unlicensed investigator. A call from "Cousin Frances" alerts him that an old enemy is back, and both Matt and "his women" are in danger. There are no women in his life, though, not really, so because of his enemy's twisted reasoning, no woman who crosses Matt's path is safe. As he tries to keep himself and everyone else out of harm's way, and remove his enemy from circulation, Matt struggles with the possibility that his best will not be good enough.

I found the story a little slow to get into, and certainly rather dark, but there's action, struggle, and suspense, and both the story's development and denoument are believable. If you like gritty noir and you haven't read any of the Scudder books, you're in for a treat. On the other hand, if you want a lighter touch, avoid Block's Scudder series and go straight to the comedic Burglar series instead.

(In unrelated news, the house concert was quite a bit of fun, and the general noise level was such that we could be heard, but our missed notes overlooked. Also, our hostess and third member of the trio built and played a Carronet: she took a power drill to a carrot to create a center bore and finger holes, attached a clarinet mouthpiece to it, and used it to play a basic blues number. Highly entertaining, and mostly in tune as well.)

Akron: 13 February 07: Is this what they call an existential moment?


Just a few minutes ago, I was picking my way across the porch and down the (outside) steps from our second-floor apartment to the breezeway on the main floor, laundry basket in hand. It's full dark and has been since seven or so, and it's hovering somewhere just around freezing. My ankles are cold, but bearably so, and the rest of me is fine in jeans and a fleece. And as I'm stepping cautiously down the stairs and the motion sensor light kicks in as I hit the fourth stair from the bottom, I'm thinking about  the fact that I'll be doing this every week. Every week I'll be trekking down stairs to take care of the laundry, and it will get hot, and in summer I'll be wearing sandals and shorts and one of those sleeveless cotton blouses I'm already collecting for summer, and it will still be almost to hot to bear... and I find myself thinking "can someone remind me again: why am I here? and when can I go home?"

Then, of course, I collect the laundry, head back up the stairs, and join my sweetie in the living room, and the feeling passes.

(Spoiler: the answer to the second question is "just a little over seven and a half months from now.")