Monthly Archives: November 2020

Notes, 11/30/20

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We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper
We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence

After reading Rennie’s review of it, I immediately put We Keep the Dead Close on hold at the library. I was ahead of the crowd; it became available in only a couple days. Now, it’s an eight week wait at the least.

In 1969, Jane Britton, an anthropology student at Harvard, was murdered in her apartment. Clues pointed toward someone from the Anthropology Department; Harvard and the Cambridge PD weren’t forthcoming about the investigation. Britton’s death takes on an urban legend quality as her very incomplete story is told over and over through the years, shrouded in official silence. Silence is something of an MO for Harvard, especially where its female faculty and students are concerned. Becky Cooper set out to find the truth of what happened to Jane Britton, but also ends up considering our very perception of truth. The case ends in a way that is unusual for true crime fiction. My one criticism is that there are a lot of people involved with this story. A lot of names. Keeping everyone straight was a task.

What would a culture look like, I wondered, that, recognizing the limitations of memory and rejecting the half-truths of reconstructions, discouraged nostalgia?

We Keep the Dead Close, Becky Cooper
After-Supper Ghost Stories by Jerome K. Jerome
After-Supper Ghost Stories

Jerome K. Jerome is most noted as a humor writer. Previous to After-Supper Ghost Stories, I had read one or two other of his stories. I liked them well enough, but they didn’t strike me as too funny. Despite it being recommended by other readers I trust, I haven’t read Jerome’s most famous work, Three Men in a Boat. I’ve been leery of his humor, or any humor that’s 100 years old. I figured a book of Christmas ghost stories might be a better fit for a trial. And it was very enjoyable! Funny and a little creepy too. It might help if you’re familiar with the tradition of Christmas Eve ghost stories; the beginning of After-Supper Ghost Stories is a send-up of that as Jerome muses that the holiday is the primary night for haunting.

Reading

Should finish A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas by Jackie Lau for HoHoHo Readathon. I didn’t get too much nonfiction reading done in November, but holiday frivolity has been needed. Horror bookclub is reading Angela Carter’s The Bloody Tower, so I think I’ll give that a try next.

Deal Me In

10♠️: “Sour Milk Girls” by Erin Roberts
Science fiction tale. If traumatic memories could be removed from a foster child and stored until their eighteenth birthday, would that make them better children? More adoptable? Or are the lack of those memories just as harmful? Read at Clarkesworld.

About The Weather

We stayed home for Thanksgiving, which was totally fine with me. Honestly, since the weather broke and we’re finally experiencing fall, I’ve felt so much better about the world. I know many people have problems in the winter with lack of sunlight, but I’m the opposite. Heat and sun just builds up on me and autumn is the only way out from under it. I put up the tree on Thursday and am slowly decorating it. College basketball is back too. All the best winter things.


NonFic November 2020, Wk 4

Week 4 is hosted by Katie @ Doing Dewey

New to My TBR : It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

Sheesh, I guess December is coming up next week which means that this is the last week of Nonfiction November. I added a little of this and a little of that to my TBR list, which is just the way I like nonfiction!

  • My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams via Books are My Favorite and Best.
  • The Burning of Bridget Cleary by Angela Bourke via 746 Books.
  • Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man by Lynn Vincent & Sara Vladic via Julz Reads.
  • Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad by David Haward Bain via Lou Lou Reads.

For “Expert Week,” I asked from some sports recommendations. Here are a couple on the top of my virtual TBR!

  • ROAR by Samantha Lane via Book’d Out.
  • The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams by Darcy Frey via Reader Buzz.

Notes, 11/22/20

Read

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Deb @ Readerbuzz gave me a bunch of recommendations this week for sports books. One of them, Dragon Hoops, was available through the online library and I availed myself.

Gene Luen Yang is a comic book geek. He started out reading them and moved on to writing them. He was never good at sports or even cared about sports until a few years into his tenure at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA. Basketball is very big in California high schools. Yang started to see stories: in the coaches, in the players, and in the sport of basketball itself. He very deftly weaves all these stories together through the school’s efforts to win the state title game. Yang’s wheelhouse is superheroes and he brings those chops to illustrating athletes. It’s a great combination.

A Match Made for Thanksgiving by Jackie Lau

I joined the Ho-Ho-Ho Readathon with the intent of reading mostly “Christmas” ghost stories, but I decided to also keep an eye out for a fun holiday romance. I spotted this one being read by fellow readathoner Angie.

It was pretty much exactly what I wanted: a fun, frivolous contemporary romance. The sexy bits weren’t overly prolonged and the drama was light. Sometimes, I just want to read about people who like each other! I might have to read the next one in the series too.

Reading

Still reading We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper. Engrossing, yes, but intense too. I was working on a nonfiction work about a murdered woman and it gets too much into my head. I get rather depressed every time I work on it. It’s maybe not good for my mental health.

I do hope to get more reading done for the Ho-Ho-Ho Readathon. Probably After-Supper Ghost Stories by Jerome K. Jerome and maybe A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas by Jackie Lau. Between this readathon, college basketball starting up, and getting some decorations up this week, I should get into the holiday spirit.

Classics Club – CCSpin #25

The Lucky Spin Number has been posted! And that number is…14!
Which for me is Edgar Huntly; or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker by Charles Brockden Brown, an American novel written in 1799. It’s Gothic! It’s 18th Century! Which means I should probably get to reading it sooner rather than later even if the read-by date is Jan. 30th.

Deal Me In

Week 46: 6♣️
“On the Slab” by Harlan Ellison – This is my final Ellison story for this year’s Deal Me In and it’s such a very Harlan Ellison story. The body of an alien, or maybe a god, is uncovered in an apple orchard. Before scientists can secure the remains, they are bought by a concert promoter who decides to put them on display. Slowly, though, the concert promoter realizes what the body is, and is changed by it. All with a little existential horror thrown in.

Week 47: J♥️
“The Bridge Partner” by Peter S. Beagle – In contrast, I still have three Beagle stories left for the year! I’m not quite used to a murder mystery type thing from Beagle, but this one does work rather well. Also, I’m always pro- middle-aged lady stories.

And I’m caught up on Deal Me In stories!

Watching

I picked up a cheap DVD collection of the Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant seasons of Doctor Who. All the episodes and specials! So, I’ll be watching that for a while.


Ho-Ho-Ho Readathon 2020

Hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer!

I’m in a little reading slump and looking to jazz things up. I haven’t done the Ho-Ho-Ho Readathon in quite a while; maybe this will spark some seasonal feelings. *glares at the 90F temperatures*

Now, I can’t go too far from my wheelhouse. I’ll be reading (maybe) some Christmas ghost stories:

But, if you have a recommendation for a fun Christmas-y contemporary romance, I’d love to entertain it!

Read

NonFic November 2020, Wk 3

Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction is Week 3’s host:

Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I’m going for all three this week! My subject? Sports! People who knew me in high school or college would probably be surprised to find that I’ve become a player of a sport and a fan of sports.

Three books I’ve read and would recommend:

  • A Sense of Where You Are: Bill Bradley at Princeton by John McPhee – The other book about a sport I’ve read by John McPhee (aside from this year’s Levels of the Game).
  • Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis – I love that sports books are usually about a story but also about a system. Here I learned about baseball and also about the Oakland A’s.
  • The Blind Side by Michael Lewis – I didn’t remember that both Moneyball and The Blind Side were both by Michael Lewis. Obviously, he’s a stand-out in this genre.

Three books I want to read (and all are available at the library right now!):

  • Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession, and My Wild Youth by David Gessner – This is the sport I play, but I haven’t read this book yet!
  • Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory by Lydia Reeder – Ladies and the history of basketball (probably my favorite sport to watch)? Yes, please!
  • Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano (trans. Mark Fried) – This one is cheating a little. I’ve read the first few chapters of this book for a Sport & Society class I’m currently taking.

And finally, I’d like some recommendations. I’m especially looking for sports book by women, or sports books for younger readers. Anyone read anything that should go on my TBR?

Notes, 11/16/20

Read and Reading

Did I finish reading anything last week other than my Deal Me In story? No. But I did start reading something new.

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence

What’s Nonfiction reviewed We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper. I’m working on a nonfiction project myself, and this book seems like something I should look at as well as being an engaging read. I put it on hold at the library, figuring I had two weeks to finish up Edison’s Eve. Foiled by the library, it became available Friday. So, I started reading it on Friday.

The second half #Sherlockathon was a bit of a bust for me, but did I really expect differently considering my track record with TBR lists? (I love making ’em, barely ever stick to ’em…) Still, it was a fun event, and I’ll give it another go if the organizers decide to do it again.

Deal Me In

Week 45: 10♦️
“The Letters” by Edith Wharton – The title of the Wharton anthology I’m reading is Tales of Men and Ghosts. Honestly, there have been too many stories of the former and not enough of the latter. “The Letters” is about a man, but through the lens of a woman who loves him, despite his being occasionally very negligent. For a story published before 1910, the actions of the young woman feel surprisingly contemporary.

(Yes, I’m still a week behind.)

Classics Club Spin #25

It’s easy. At your blog, before next Sunday 22nd November 2020, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.

This is your Spin List.

On Sunday 22nd November, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 30th January, 2021.

Yeah, yeah, I know what I just said about lists

  1. The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume
  2. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  3. The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green
  4. Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy
  5. Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson
  6. King Solomon’s Mines by Henry Rider Haggard
  7. The Horla by Guy de Maupassant
  8. Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime, and other stories by Oscar Wilde
  9. The Private Memoirs…of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg
  10. The Mummy! by Jane Webb Loudon
  11. Clarimonde by Théophile Gautier
  12. Mosses from an Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  13. The Queen’s Necklace by Alexandre Dumas
  14. Edgar Huntly by Charles Brockden Brown
  15. The Devil’s Elixirs by E. T. A. Hoffmann
  16. The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
  17. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  18. The Dorrington Deed-Box by Arthur Morrison
  19. The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker
  20. Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn

Honestly, any of these sound good to me right about now, especially given the two month reading window!


Cinema Saturday, 11/14/20

A look at the movies I watched during the week.

The Penitent Man

Year: 2010
Runtime: 1h 32m
Rated: Not Rated

Director: Nicholas Gyeney

Writers: Nicholas Gyeney, Trevor Tillman

Stars: Lance Henriksen, Lathrop Walker, Andrew Keegan

“Humankind had acquired all the information it could ever desire, and it was maddening.”

Initial: I came across this movie while looking at Lance Henricksen’s credits during my Horror A-to-Z watch-athons; bookmarked it because it wasn’t horror.

Production Notes: According to IMDB, from concept to completion, The Penitent Man took only five months to produce.

What Did I Think: (may contain spoliers)
The Penitent Man is a time travel movie written almost exclusively in dialogues between the characters played by Henriksen/Lathrop or Lathrop/Keegan.

The plot isn’t particularly twisty; if you’re paying attention at all, you know exactly where the movie is going. This means that it’s not a frustrating exercise in obfuscation which is often a trap for time travel movies (*cough* Primer *cough*). The Penitent Man is more like a kinda clever short story concept that writer/director Nicholas Gyeney had the self-control to NOT pad out.

For a movie of people talking, I didn’t find it slow. Part of that is due to the actor’s performances, of course, but credit also needs to go to director Gyeney, cinematographer Michael Boydstun, and editor Jacob Bearchum. The movie keeps moving despite its subjects being stationary.

If you’re in the US, you can watch The Penitent Man for free on Tubi.


That’s if for this week. November is finally slowing down, so maybe a couple movies in the next edition of Cinema Saturday. Oh, and if you want to follow me on Letterboxd, I’m knabity.