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June 19th, 2010


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12:04 pm - Mawddach
I have just spent a week beside the Mawddach estuary in Snowdonia. It was very beautiful and I went for a long walk every day, and ate cake. I met gylfinir for a lovely meal on Thursday night, and it was great to get to know a livejournal friend in real life. The only blight on the week was England's god-awful (worse even than I expected) tragic mess of a World Cup. Breathe.

I read a few books this week -

The Truth by Terry Pratchett: This was written about ten years ago but I hadn't read it before. As with all Terry P books, I enjoyed it a lot. It's genuinely funny and clever, and it featured The Watch (a bit). A Discworldisation of American crime films such as Pulp Fiction and Scarface (a pixie is introduced with 'say hello to my little friend') which gave me funnies.

The Epic of Gilgamesh: Modern technology means that this information which once required a mainframe of clay tablets as big as a room can now be carried round on a bound sheaf of paper that fits in your pocket. This story seems to me to be about the futility of patriarchal heroism, written at a time when it was a pretty new idea. Killing the spirit of the forest, it becomes barren. Where is your god-self now?

New Model Army by Adam Roberts: Aha. Another story about the cusp of a new way of fighting, and its tragic implications for the Self. So interestingly right and infuriatingly wrong that I shall write a separate post about it.

and I started

Blood's a Rover by James Ellroy: This is the third in the American Tabloid trilogy. Set in 1968, about the war in the US between radicalism and conservatism, with neither side exactly covering themselves in glory, but everyone skagged up. The writing is so difficult and dense that I have to slow my reading pace radically just to understand what is going on in each sentence. Emulated in the UK by David Peace, so if you like him, try Ellroy (but don't start here).

Sprit by Gwyneth Jones: Didn't really get on with this. It's a space-opera version of The Count of Monte Cristo. Like The Sparrow this book asks you to inhabit a masochistic and conservative universe, which I don't enjoy inhabiting. I didn't get very far in. There is a struggle in the conservative mind as to whether they can let go of sex hang-ups, but at the end of the day, even if they do they are still imagining that their transient aristocracy is permanent and natural.

Hodd by Adam Thorpe: Damn I seem to have lost this. I hope I didn't leave it in Wales. A 'translation' by a World War I survivor of a 14th century Latin manuscript discovered in a ruined church in The Somme. It is the testimony of an aged monk of his days living outside Nottingham with Robin Hood's merry band of psychopathic killers. Not far enough in to give a better account of it, but written with great assurance. (ETA found it in my shoe bag)

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:archbishopm
Date:June 19th, 2010 12:49 pm (UTC)
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The Epic of Gilgamesh

There was an illustrated children's book of it and part 3 mind you was wee preliterate Diabla's bedtime read of choice for ages.

Ask her these days she'll tell you it was obv. 'cause Gilgamesh/Enkidu ftw. Kid's a mad slasher, dunno where she gets it.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:June 19th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC)
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It reads very much like a comic I think. Perhaps it's because they are trying to cram maximum action into minimum text.
[User Picture]
From:archbishopm
Date:June 19th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
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It reads very much like a comic I think

Oh hey...did I ever mention that last year's seriously nasty bloodcoughing doomflu whatever it was called had the positive side effect of I read our Mr. Stephenson's "Anathem" which I have to say I probably would not have done otherwise, despite my continued venearation of Snow Crash. But yeah it was really good. Tho perhaps that is the bloodcoughing doomflu talking.

PS you have not said anything about the season finale of Breaking Bad aaaaah
[User Picture]
From:archbishopm
Date:June 19th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
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"venearation". Okay Ima stop typing now.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:June 19th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC)
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I sat up last night until 3am watching the stream of Breaking Bad, so my brain hasn't really processed it yet. It was very moving.

I didn't fancy Anathem because I thought it might be a smart boy overstepping himself. And it's a big commitment if it doesn't work out. But I know I ought to try it.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 19th, 2010 02:07 pm (UTC)
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And it's a big commitment if it doesn't work out.

Heh see that's why (yes I am still up I hate plants and all lving things) the flu came in so handy. I was for literals too weak for a couple of weeks to do anything more strenuous than pick up a book. So might as well get the most out of it.

Heh, bedriddenness is also the only reason I ever finished Infinite Jest.

Both definitely masculine thingamahoos, but I'm used to that ain't I ;-p
[User Picture]
From:archbishopm
Date:June 19th, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
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That was me. I hope is self evident. Blah.
[User Picture]
From:glitterboy1
Date:June 19th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
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Welcome home! It's good to see you back. It sounds like a splendid week (football apart); I hope you've come back feeling refreshed.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:June 19th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
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Also, nice to have the chance to spend some time with my daughter, we've never been away just the two of us
[User Picture]
From:katlinel
Date:June 19th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
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I'd seen some positive reviews of Spirit that made me wonder if it was worth trying Jones again, but I'm not sure that it is from what you say. I disliked and was bored by Bold as Love, and so I didn't read any more of the trilogy even though I'd bought the first and second books together.

And speaking of stuff that throws you out of a story, I found some interesting commentary on Mieville's worldbuilding with respect to The City and the City that I thought you might be interested in reading.

Glad it was a good holiday.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:June 19th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
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I'm sure a lot of people like Spirit, it just didn't do it for me. There's a lot of clever stuff, but the lead character wasn't really to my taste, and she was really star-struck by the aristocratic lady to whom she was indentured, and so on. Not my kind of society.
[User Picture]
From:coalescent
Date:June 19th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
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I didn't think New Model Army was about a new way of fighting. Well, obviously it is about that, but not really about it. I think it's about the formation and maintenance of communities. And I also need to write about it. :-)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:June 19th, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
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I think the development of new ways of fighting is what drives history: everything else comes second. I suppose unless we get some kind of open frontier if that ever happens, perhaps in space.
[User Picture]
From:archbishopm
Date:June 20th, 2010 01:03 am (UTC)
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I think the development of new ways of fighting is what drives history

Oh you were the one in my LiveJournal circle who was talking ages ago about Black Man yes? No? In that book the new way of fighting was genetically clonemagicking up a army of preagrarian Encino Men. And the Encino Men were pretty awesome at fighting but also irresistable to women so the suits were like "well that ain't right" and after they had won the fight they sent them all to Mars. But no seriously it's a good read if you are all right with a) cavemen and b) Mars and you know I am.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:June 20th, 2010 07:04 am (UTC)
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You are right, I am a very big fan of Black Man. It had a different name in the US, I think, but obviously not in Canada. I think it's by far the best thing Richard Morgan has written. He got a million pounds for the movie rights to Altered Carbon, but I think Black Man would make a better film.
[User Picture]
From:archbishopm
Date:June 20th, 2010 08:20 am (UTC)
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Ooh if you were about to go on and advise that it star Chiwitel Ejiofor then I would have had to advise you to GET OUT OF MY HEAD no seriously there's pointy bits, tetanus and stuff.
[User Picture]
From:gylfinir
Date:June 19th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
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It was very lovely to meet you - I hope you'll come back!
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:June 20th, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
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I'm sorry you had such a drive. I've been reading the Guardian country diary :-)

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