Posted in History

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.


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.