Bout of Books 30 Wrap-Up
I read about 430 pages during Bout of Books 30 and finished three books that were in various stages of progress. That was pretty much what I had on my slate for last week. I also made it to both Twitter chats!
Edgar Huntly or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker by Charles Brockden Brown
I found this to be a perplexing “classic.” I chose it because was supposedly an American Gothic, written during the 18th century (but barely). It does begin with some of the trappings that I associate with Gothic literature: a mystery seemingly based on the familial history. Edgar, while trying to find out who murdered his friend, stumbles into the history of an Irish immigrant. But, at about the 50% mark, Brown sort of tosses that story thread (until the very end) for an adventure narrative. Edgar wakes up in a cave and fights Indians all the way back home. What was additionally befuddling was Brown’s style of writing. The Wikipedia entry for Edgar Huntly talks about coincidence being a “theme” in this novel, but it really seems like Brown was calling up details as he needed them. Edgar is facing off against a panther in a darkened cave? Luckily, Edgar is great with a tomahawk and, luckily, there’s a random tomahawk nearby…
Anyway, this was from my Classics Club list and I read it for the Dec/Jan Classics Club spin.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman’s Norse Mythology has been on my TBR pretty much since it came out. I read the Elder Edda and Younger Edda back in 2013, but they’re not the clearest of narratives. They twist back on themselves in ways that are sometimes confounding. Gaiman takes both as well as Snorri Sturluson’s history of Swedish kings to construct a series of fine mythological tales of Odin, Thor, Loki, and all the rest. I was kind of surprised that the prose lacked some of Gaiman’s flourishes.
(Btw, I had utterly forgotten that many white supremacist dumb-asses have appropriated Norse myth. If they really would like to claim these stories as theirs alone, I encourage them to go tie their privates to an ornery goat’s beard for the amusement of us all…)
Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide by John Cleese
This is exactly what it says on the tin: a short book on creativity. It’s very similar to a TED talk Cleese has given, but expands on the ideas of encouraging play and finding a balance between focusing and giving the unconscious mind time to work on problems. I also found comfort in knowing that panic is something that happens during the creative process. I panic often.
Deal Me In
5♠️ – “The Shadow in the Corner” by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Starting the year off right with a 19th century ghost story. I’m fairly sure I’ve read a few of Braddon’s stories in the past, though they aren’t coming to mind. This story has made me look forward to reading Lady Audley’s Secret (from my Classics Club list) in the nearer future.
Other short stories I read this week:
- “Aspic” by Tatyana Tolstaya, via Short Story Magic Tricks
- “Intentionalities” by Aimee Ogden from Clarkesworld
On my TBR this week:
- Strange Cures by Rob Zabrecky
- A Deal Me In story
- A couple chapters of David A. Cook’s A History of Narrative Film for the MIT film course I’m following along with.
- Whatever else might pop up.