What I’ve been reading

1. Pierre LeMaitre, Three Days and a Life.  French crime fiction, conceptual, very good for those who like to read in this direction.  I am glad I finished it.  The first half is pretty good, the second half excellent.

2. Fred Hoyle, The Black Cloud.  The legacy of Wells and Stapledon surfaces yet again, if you are looking for an early but compelling science fiction novel you haven’t read, try this.  The ecological features of the story are striking too.

3. John Wyndham, Chocky.  How would/should parents react if one of their children appeared to be possessed?  What weights should you assign to “possession by spirits,” as opposed to “possession by aliens”?  Both conceptually intriguing and well-written.  Also read his The Midwich Cuckoos on similar themes.

4. Margaret Atwood, Hag-Seed: A Retelling of the Tempest.  Given the author is so famous, it’s strange this book hasn’t received more attention.  Perhaps that is because it requires a reasonable degree of familiarity with Shakespeare’s The Tempest, worth the reread if you must or are so inclined.  This is one of Atwood’s best novels, and it focuses on an over the hill director’s attempt to stage Shakespeare at the local prison.

5. William Shakespeare, The Tempest.  Given that I basically never regret a Shakespeare reread, I suppose I should do them more often.  Folger edition of course.


The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare play. I haven't tried the Folger editions, so will try to check it out some time. I have, and still love, the 1974 edition of the Riverside Shakespeare that I used in college in the late '80s. It helped change my silly high school preconceptions.

U.S. produces about 40% of world's new book titles each year, which equals about 250,000 new books available in U.S. annually.

Like TC, I physically can read only four or five thousand books per year... but I have an unerring sense of which 245,000+ books NOT to read each year (poetry and fiction are easily eliminated)

Sorry, but you're erring.

"poetry and fiction are easily eliminated" ... Then allow me to troll you a bit by pointing to a wonderful poetry book I bought today: http://arcpoetry.ca/2015/06/23/between-space-beforehand-and-unseparated-ken-babstocks-on-malice/

Beautiful, atmospheric, philosophical and enigmatic poetry, based on a framework of other texts and placed in a deserted NSA radar station. Also containing quotes by Walter Benjamin and reports of collisions between airplanes and birds :-)

'Folger edition of course.'

Of course, because why see Shakespeare at the Folger Theatre when you can read these - 'Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-class center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts. Along with Simon & Schuster, it also publishes the Folger Editions, the leading Shakespeare texts used in secondary schools in the United States. Each edition features:

Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play

Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play

Scene-by-scene plot summaries

A key to famous lines and phrases

An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language

An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s extensive holdings of rare books

An annotated guide to further reading' http://www.simonandschusterpublishing.com/folgershakespearelibrary/

Yes, the heady nostalgia of high school (or college, of course) in a book.

You might enjoy "The Centaur" by Updike.

Ask yourself, every once in a while, could I have written this book?

Certainly there are lesser goods in our emotional and philosophical account books than the undoubted good of understanding a little better what Shakespeare was up to with those 17K words and the order he put those words in. The gang at Folgers Coffee never stated that you were better off understanding how to, given the improbable event wherein you find yourself sitting next to Shakespeare on a long train ride, [how to] explain to Shakespeare your "feelings" about his 17K words and the order he put those words in, than understanding how to live life well for the better good of those you love: in fact, I used to hang out with one or two friends (I think) of the Folger Library honchos and I can guarantee you said honchos would never encourage anyone to trade a deeper knowledge of the humans they lived with for a deeper knowledge of Shakespeare.

Like I said, you might enjoy the novel called "Centaur" by Updike, there may be thousands of better novels but that is the novel you want to read if you want to reflect on old high school days (heady nostalgia - I like that phrase - not as much as Updike would have liked it, but he was a softer touch for that sort of thing than me).

I meant (first line, third paragraph) "our emotional and philosophical account ledgers". Makes more sense in context and Scrooge and Bob Cratchit and all that.

Calderon is good, too. I enjoy reading the plays (in English) and then checking out the talented tenth among the verses (closer to 30 percent in Vida Es Sueno, but anyone who reads a lot of Calderon is not going to argue with me that the average number of genius verses is closer to 10 than 30 percent - just saying) in the original Spanish.
(scene shifts to the farmer's market) do you have jalapenos - you do good - Jalapeno esta un nombre bonita (Jalapeno) , esta la nombre di mi gatito, mi gato (los gatos son amabiles) - ella es muy bonita (su gato?) ( si, mi gato 'Jalapeño') también baile toda la noche (baile?? su gato baile?) (si) (toda la noche?) (si, toda la noche!)- y yo de decir - porque bailes toda la noche - y ella - la problema non es mío, la problema es tuyo - estoy nacido por bailar - esta bien. (Japapeno is the name of my cat (Jalapeno?) yes, Jalapeno is a wonderful name, it is a good name for my cat (cats are in fact wonderful and deeply reflective and intelligent animals) she is very nice (can I see a picture) (yes) but she dances all night (dances?) yes, dances, the way cats do [the narrator points from one corner of the little world of the Farmer's Market to another, signifying that one realizes that cats do not exactly dance unless trained, but do, in fact, run in various vectors, in quick succession - it looks like dancing when you explain it by hand gestures at a farmer's market on a warm afternoon, before winter sets in , months later]: the cat does not care, and I do not care that the cat does not care, because cats are gonna be cats, and that is all right.

When I was in high school we were poor (per capita in a house with too many children, according to the cheaper residents of the house) and could not afford a cat: well, we sort of could, but those who could have welcomed a Cat were Too Cheap (and lazy, sad to say - well, God forgives laziness quicker than any other sin, I hope, as do the rejected cats, bless their hearts) to do so. I would have welcomed a cat.

Sad! Well maybe God cares, sorry if you think "God" is some weird thing people stupider than you think about when they are sad: Well: Nada te turbe ....

I remember liking it at age (?) 14; I have faint memories of enjoying a mathematical footnote. Can anyone confirm?

2. If you are referring to Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud, yes, Hoyle not only does the maths, he also shows his work.

"If you are referring to Fred Hoyle’s The Black Cloud": good point.

"I am glad I finished it" is susceptible to more than one interpretation.

Started a LeMaitre on my Kindle, but found it was the goriest story I had ever read or even heard of.

Hoyle's `Ossian's Ride' is more fun than `Black Cloud'.

"Chocky"'s a definite favorite. I'm doing a book-club discussion on Wyndham's "The Chrysalids" next week, which should be interesting.

I have read a couple of LeMaitre's - Alex, and The Great Swindle (winner of Prix Goncourt) - and they were entertaining but possessed zero calories. Surprised that Tyler likes him.

The main similarity between Wells and Stabledon that I know of is a fondness for totalitarianism. Although only Stapledon was explicit about it in his novels. Are we to expect more of the same from Hoyle?

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