Dewey’s 24-Hour “Reverse” Readathon 2020

Decorative pic for the 24-hour Readathon.

Friday & Saturday, Aug. 7th-8th, is the second annual “Reverse” 24-hour Readathon. What’s reverse about it? Instead of starting (in the US) Saturday morning, it starts Friday evening. So, for me in Arizona, it will start at 5pm on Friday instead of 5am Saturday.

Will I end up reading more than I usually do during a 24-hour readathon? Probably not. I do like my sleep…

Hour 19 – 20

Finished House of M. Yeah, I know. I’m slow.

And my Deal Me In, Week 32 story: “Some Cupids Kill With Arrows” by Tansy Rayner Roberts. This story was a delight and a great pick-me-up after the heartbreak of House of M.

Hour 17 – 18

Still reading Draft No. 4. All those short stories yesterday made me feel like a speedy reader! Peanuts for a snack.

I have to put Draft No. 4 away for a while. There’s some heavy stuff to think about. And I’ve been sitting in the front room with the laptop and I think it’s finally gotten too hot for that. Time to adjourn to the office…

Finishing House of M and snaking more than expected. This time it’s a Nature Valley dark chocolate, peanut & almond granola bar.

Hour 15 – 16

Picking up Draft No. 4 by John McPhee at Ch. 4. Coffee and donuts (a powdered sugar and a plain Softee) for breakfast!

Hour 14.5

Mid-Event-ish Survey:

  1. What are you reading right now? Just woke up; coffee’s brewing.
  2. How many books have you read so far? Finished 5 short stories & 2 comic collections.
  3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I still have Destroyer in my queue and finishing Draft No. 4 this morning.
  4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? No major interruptions aside from sleep.
  5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? I feel like I’ve already read more than usual, even though I’ve not going to log as many hours as a regular readathon.
Continue reading “Dewey’s 24-Hour “Reverse” Readathon 2020″

Sunday Salon, 8/2

Reading

Past

A Room with a View

Finished The Beggar Queen before the the end of July. I even posted some thoughts on Lloyd Alexander’s Westmark trilogy!

Also caught up on my Deal Me In reading, though I’m not back on the commentary wagon there.

On a nostalgia-powered whim, I decided to reread A Room with a View by E. M. Forster. The first/last time I read it was probably sometime in college when I decided that since I liked the movie so much I should probably do my due diligence and read the book. I think I have more to say about it later.

Future

Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process

I purchased a copy of Draft No. 4 by John McPhee. That’s probably going to be my morning reading for a couple/few weeks.

I should finish The King in Yellow, but I’m not really enthusiastic about it. Chamber’s writing is rather plain and oblique. I’ll power through another couple stories and see where I stand.

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is hosting a “reverse” readathon on the 7th-8th. Instead of starting 8am EST of Saturday, it starts at 8pm EST on Friday—which comes out to 5pm my time. I’m looking forward to it.

Also gearing up for another Classics Club Spin:

What is the spin?

It’s easy. At your blog, before next Sunday 9th August 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 9th August, 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 September, 2020.

via the Classics Club blog

So here’s my Spin List:

  1. Edgar Huntly by Charles Brockden Brown
  2. The Mummy! by Jane Webb Loudon
  3. Clarimonde by Théophile Gautier
  4. The Queen’s Necklace by Alexandre Dumas
  5. East Lynne by Ellen Wood
  6. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
  7. Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy
  8. Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson
  9. King Solomon’s Mines by Henry Rider Haggard
  10. The Horla by Guy de Maupassant
  11. The Parasite by Arthur Conan Doyle
  12. The Wind in the Rose-Bush by Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman
  13. The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker
  14. The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
  15. The House of the Vampire by George Sylvester Viereck
  16. The Magician by W. Somerset Maugham
  17. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  18. The Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker
  19. The Door in the Wall by H. G. Wells
  20. The Land of Mist by Arthur Conan Doyle

Watching

Watched two new-to-me movies this week. The first was The Messenger (2009) about a staff sergeant assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. It was pretty good, but anything with Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster is going to be solid.

Better in my opinion was Bad Reputation (2018), a documentary about Joan Jett. I’ve never been a Joan Jett fan really, outside of her hits, but she’s an artist with an incredible and influential career.

ROW80

Past

It was kind of a crap week. I’ll blame the continued heatwave for my lethargy.

I forgot to track my time yesterday, but I probably worked less than 10 hours this past week. I did do a read-through of articles, set up a spreadsheet of names and addresses, updated the google map I have of events, and started writing—I have 300 of some kind of words.

Future

More research, more writing. I want to reread what The Man from the Train has to say about Rev. George Kelly. Generally, I’d like to learn more about policing and streetcars in Omaha in 1915.

{Books} The Westmark Trilogy

Westmark (Westmark, #1)

Theo, by occupation, was a devil. That is, he worked as apprentice and general servant to Anton, the printer. … Accidentally, he had learned to read, which in some opinion spoiled him for anything sensible.

So begins Lloyd Alexander’s Westmark trilogy (Westmark, The Kestrel, and The Beggar Queen).

Alexander is more popularly known for the the Chronicles of Prydain series, of which The Black Cauldron is part. Prydain is based on Welsh mythology and has a good helping of oracular pigs, rhyming beast-men, dark lords, and young chosen heroes.

Westmark, while not precisely somewhere in Europe, is set in a non-fantastical world, circa 1800. The crux of the plot involves the gradual abolition of a monarchy and the civil and international struggles of a budding republic. What more can you want in a YA series?

Theo, our main character, is not of secret noble birth or any thing spectacular like that and struggles with the actions he’s taken to become a “hero.” Mickle, our female character, is actually a really great character. She’s smart, competent, and self-sufficient. She and Theo become a couple and just… stay that way. There’s no love triangle, or “how can I be worthy of you,” or any other nonsense. They’re just two young people that would like to live their lives, but there’s this pesky revolution mucking things up.

I harp a little on the romance aspect because I find its lack of complication to be refreshing. By no means are these books romances: they are adventures! There are harrowing rescues, treacherous bad guys, plots and counter-plots. Enemies become allies and the good guys aren’t always right. The characters relationships are complex without being over-dramatic. And, while the first book Westmark won the 1982 National Book Award for Children’s Books, I can see how its lower key has possibly hurt its longevity.

Still, the writing sparkles and Alexander has a good eye for when to add some ridiculousness. They’ve been the perfect books to read a chapter of every morning for the last three months.

Side note: I collected all three of these books over the years in the above hardback editions. All three are discarded library books. From three different libraries. Westmark was purchased first, probably in Lincoln, NE; it had previously been part of the Springfield (NE) Public Library system. I’m pretty sure I came across The Beggar Queen next, at the Tempe (AZ) Public Library book sale. Later, I ordered The Kestrel through Paperback Swap. The sender removed any locational information, but it still has the shelving label on its spine.

Sunday (Monday) Salon, 7/27

Reading

Past

Cover: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic had to go back to the library before I was finished. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying it, but it hadn’t caught fire for me either. Plus, I’m in a little bit of a reading slump. I’ll probably give it another go someday when other people aren’t waiting to read it.

I’ve been taking part in the July Page-a-thon, but only in the “well, I read 7 pages today” kind of way. I’m also behind on Deal Me In stories and haven’t made much progress on my Classic Club list this month.

Future

Cover: The Beggar Queen by Lloyd Alexander

To read this week?

  • It’s possible I’ll finish The Beggar Queen tomorrow morning since morning reading is the only reading I’ve been doing. I’ll probably review the Westmark trilogy sometime during the week.
  • Deal Me In story for Week 29: “Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy” by JY Yang
  • Deal Me In story for Week 30: “Soft Monkey” by Harlan Ellison

Watching

Movie of the week was Free Solo, the Oscar award-winning documentary about climber Alex Honnold, directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. If you have a problem with heights, this is probably not the movie for you. Actually, if you have problems with tight spaces, probably not the movie for you either. But it is a beautiful movie and a meditation on why someone would climb without a rope and why someone would want to film it.

I’ve always thought I’d like to try climbing, but I realize I mean climbing with ropes in a gym. I don’t really like being outdoors…

ROW80

Past

I logged 18hrs 20mins of work, which is pretty good considering Friday was derailed by a gaming session on Friday.

So, what I’m doing is looking at the case of a woman named Ada Swanson who was murdered in 1915 in Omaha. The story was a sensation in the newspapers and my thesis question is, “Why Ada?” Not just why was this woman murdered (the case is unsolved, as far as I know), but why was she front page news when, for example, the story of a naked man attacking women in a cemetery isn’t.

Last week, I finished transcribing the newspaper stories about Ada and the women getting attacked.

Future

This week, I’m going to read though my transcript and put together a list of names and addressed mentioned in case. I’ll probably do more Google-fu-related research and maybe read some of the interstitial issues of newspapers that I’ve skipped over. And I think I’ll start writing whatever it is I’m writing.

Sunday Salon, 7/19

Reading

Mexican Gothic

Before I got too far in Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia came off-hold from the online library. I placed the hold back when it was still pre-release and I was a few down the list. I figured I wouldn’t get a shot at it until sometime next month. So far, I’m enjoying it.

Watching

I have a liking for not-well-regarded occult action movies (see also Legion (2010)). The involvement of angels is only a plus. Constantine isn’t that bad, really. The cast is rather good. The story is a little convoluted, but that’s par for this course.

Listening

I’ve pretty much had Erasure’s The Innocents on replay in my head for two weeks now…

ROW80

I logged 13hrs 47mins during last week. Below goal. I wasn’t feeling good on Monday and flailed around a bit on Tuesday and Wednesday. Still, it wasn’t an entirely unsuccessful week. After a long chat with Eric (my husband), I realized that I really needed a thesis for this book. We also discussed some ways of him helping keep me motivated. I’ll probably post more about this in the future.

{Books} Two Short Reviews

The Haunting of Tram Car 015

Cover: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark was the July pick for the Occult Detective Book Club (a group on Facebook and Goodreads, if you’re into such literature). It is set in the same universe of “A Dead Djinn in Cairo” which I read and enjoyed back in January of this year. “Djinn” is available online, so I reread that before diving into Tram Car 015.

As I mentioned with “Djinn,” the world building is very deftly done. I’ve generally had a problem with steampunk because usually it’s not just retro science-fiction, but 19th-ish century sci-fi mixed with Gothic/supernatural elements. It’s just too much. Clark, though, blends “advanced” technologies and the supernatural seamlessly. The supernatural is, in fact, why this version of 1912 Egypt has the technologies it does.

I felt like the characters in Tram Car 015 were a little less compelling. Agents Hamed and Onsi are fine, but Fatma (from “Djinn”) is such a great character that they suffer in comparison. Both stories are good though; they’re set in the same world, but not directly connected. I’d definitely read more if Clark wanted to spend more time in this setting.

Levels of the Game

Cover: Levels of the Game

I found Levels of the Game by John McPhee while looking for McPhee’s Draft No. 4 (recommended by Deb @ Readerbuzz). The latter was listed in my local library’s online system, but really the license had expired and I’m on a wish-waiting list for it if the library decides to renew the license, but! Instead I noticed another book in McPhee’s catelog with a tennis court on the cover. Nonfiction about tennis? Yes, please. (Tennis is my summer sport. But there are no sports this year. Sadly, this doesn’t mean there’s no summer this year…)

Additionally, the structure of this book is rather curious, and since I’m thinking about writing a nonfiction book, I wanted to see how McPhee would pull it off. Levels of the Game is fairly short, less than 150 pages. In it, McPhee profiles two tennis players, Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner, as they play a match at Forest Hills in 1968—the first US Championship tournament of the open era (meaning both amateurs and professionals could compete). As is mentioned in the book’s summary, McPhee begins with the first toss of the ball. Interspersed with the action of the match are biographical digressions comparing and contrasting the players.

Ashe and Graebner met in the semi finals of the tournament. Why write about a semi final? The two players were both American and Davis Cup teammates. But they were also very different. Ashe was a quick, finesse player; Graebner was more reliant on power and consistency. Ashe was a black, raised by a disciplinarian single father who held down multiple jobs to support his family. Graebner, white, was the son of a doctor and wanted for nothing in his life. Politically, one was of course more liberal and one more conservative. McPhee contends this influenced their styles of play as well.

I’m not sure if the conceit of the book, the stories told during the match, entirely works. The match itself didn’t seem that interesting and I was unaware while reading that this was the first US Open and that Ashe would be the only amateur player to ever win it. I did appreciate how McPhee moved smoothly between past and present and didn’t burden himself further by telling things in absolute chronological order.

I also didn’t realize until after I checked this book out that I read McPhee’s A Sense of Where You Are, a profile of basketball player Bill Bradley, back in 2011. I enjoyed that too. If anything, now I want to read Draft No. 4 more.

Sunday Salon, 7/12

It’s summer in Phoenix. My least favorite season. We broke the July 12th record today with a temp of 116F! The impending week looks like more of the same. We’re on day 92 of no rain.

If I could hibernate until the equinox, I would.

Reading

Reviewed The Changeling by Victor LaValle! TLDR: I really enjoyed it.

Finished reading both The Haunting of Tram 015 by P. Djèlí Clark and Levels of the Game by John McPhee. Both were short. I’ll review one or the other, maybe both in the coming week.

The King in Yellow: With Other Classic Horror Stories [Illustrated]

Back to weird fiction for a little while with The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers.

Watching

The X-Files was last week’s background noise. I’m not watching the series straight through because, while The X-Files should get credit for ushering in the era of plot arcs in serial television, I kind of find the Mulder-UFO plot tedious.

My favorite episode of season 1 is “Beyond the Sea.” The set up is very Silence of the Lambs, but the psychic aspect of Luther Lee Boggs and Scully’s struggle with skepticism really add to the plot. Plus, Brad Dourif is always excellent.

ROW80

It wasn’t a bad week considering how sluggish I’ve been. Eric wasn’t feeling well mid-week and, with the weather as it’s been, we weren’t very motivated to get out and run. It’s been easy to split my time between napping (which is fine) and doomscrolling (when I should be working).

I logged 17 hours of research. (My goal is 20.) I paged through the Omaha World-Herald and Omaha Bee from June 1, 1915 to halfway through June 19, 1915. Noted or copied 26 articles. The primary investigation into Ada’s murder is winding down. This coming week, I’m going to take a look at my timeline of events and decide whether examining the papers day by day is worth it. Mostly, I’ve been looking at what else is going on in Omaha during this period. Things like a spate of burglaries weren’t immediately noticeable when I originally followed search results to articles directly about the investigation.

I’m also going to spend time this week rereading one of Eric’s manuscripts. I’ll probably split my 20 hours.

Logged 1.5 hours of working on the VOTS pages. (My goal is 3.)