Currently Reading & Quote: Shirley


; and that gift of poetry – the most divine bestowed on man –
~Shirley, Chapter XII

Gag me with a spoon, please! While I realize that historically speaking Poetry has had a pre-eminent place in literature, that does not in and of itself make it better than prose. Mankind does not, with the rare exceptions of intellectual snobs and idiots, speak in poetry but in prose. It is an artificial construct that completely relies on the extremely subjective tastes of the times. Other than that, I’m enjoy this novel. Well, except when Charlotte Bronte writes whole pages in french and doesn’t bother to translate it.

The above is a picture of the typical “beatnik”. It is what I imagine Alex and Fraggle to look like if they were beatniks in real life.. Heaven help them 😉

Currently Reading & Quote: The League of Frightened Men

I do read books, but I never yet got any real satisfaction out of one; I always have a feeling there’s nothing alive about it, it’s all dead and gone, what’s the use, you might as well try to enjoy yourself on a picnic in a graveyard.
~ Chapter 1 (Archie Goodwin)

It’s tough to tell if Rex Stout is having fun with his characters and being ironic, or something else. I can’t imagine any other reason, but then, I can’t imagine anyone thinking they can make an actual living from writing books either. A Mystery, in a mystery book no less! (for the record, that was me being ironic)

Currently Reading & Quote: The Periodic Table

Part of the appeal of the periodic table derives from the individual nature of the elements such as their colours or how they feel to the touch. Much interest also lies in their names. The chemist and concentration camp survivor Primo Levi wrote a much-acclaimed book called simply The Periodic Table in which each chapter is named after an element. The book is mostly about his relations and acquaintances, but each anecdote is motivated by Levi’s love of a particular element. The neurologist and author Oliver Sacks wrote a book called Uncle Tungsten in which he tells of his fascination with the elements, with chemistry, and in particular with the periodic table. More recently, two popular books on the elements have been written by Sam Kean and Hugh Aldersey-Williams. I think it is fair to say that the appeal of the elements in the public imagination has now truly arrived.
~chapter 1

The bolding is mine. I would like a show of hands of everyone who thinks about the periodic table or even imagines it?

No one? Really? Yeah, me neither.

Until Jason Bourne or John Wick use the periodic table to kung fu fight their way out of an armoured fortress, I think it is safe to say that that the periodic table HAS NOT entered the public imagination. In all seriousness, where do eggheads like this even come up with ideas like that? They make us Magic the Gathering (former) players seem like well adjusted hunks of burning love.

Considering that is from Chapter One, I have a feeling this is going to be another Out of Touch with Reality and the Common Man book, sigh.

Currently Reading & Quote: Drood

I had some vague idea that this book, Drood by Dan Simmons, was going to be some sort of finishing up of the incomplete Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. The following quote quickly disabused me of that idea!

Wilkie Collins is the narrator here (and for the entire book), the famous author of The Moonstone.

I privately approached Frederick Chapman of the publishers Chapman and Hall and suggested to him that I could complete The Mystery of Edwin Drood for them if they so chose. I let them know that while no notes for the remainder of the book were in existence—and it was true that none of Dickens’s usual marginal notes and outlines on blue paper have ever come to light for the unfinished portions of Drood—Dickens had taken me (and me alone) into his confidence before the end. I—and I alone—could finish the writing of the entire second half of The Mystery of Edwin Drood for only a nominal fee and equal credit as author (just as the co-authorship of our earlier collaborations had been registered).

Chapman’s response totally surprised me. The publisher was furious. He let me know that no man in England, no matter how gifted the writer might be or might think he was—and he implied that he did not think me all that gifted—could ever fill the shoes of Charles Dickens, even if I had a hundred completed outlines in my pocket. “Better that the world never knows who killed Edwin Drood—or indeed, if Edwin Drood is dead,” he wrote me, “—than a lesser mind pick up the Master’s fallen pen.”

I thought that last metaphor very garbled and grotesque indeed.

It is a good thing this is a fictional account or I’d be mighty pissed at that arrogant ass hat of a publisher. No author is above their works. The book is the thing, the author a secondary concern. If only Wilkie Collins HAD finished The Mystery of Edwin Drood! I’d be a much happier camper right now. Instead, now I’m just seeing red because of an imaginary conversation!

Currently Reading & Quote: The Mystery of Edwin Drood


Some remote fragment of Main Line to somewhere else, there was, which was going to ruin the Money Market if it failed, and Church and State if it succeeded, and (of course), the Constitution, whether or no;
~Chapter VI, Philanthropy in Minor Canon Corner.

It is good to be reminded that civil evils have always been going on. Does not negate the fact the evils ARE evil and ARE happening but ultimately God is in control, in the Past, Today and in the Future. I’m pretty sure Dickens, with his rabid hatred of the ecclesiastical, never thought he’d stir up a thought like that in a reader of his, hahahahaha!

Currently Reading & Quote: The Diamond Throne

Sparhawk shook his head. ‘Just a bath and a warm bed.’ He turned to his horse, who stood dozing with one hind leg cocked slightly so that his hoof rested on its tip. ‘Wake up, Faran,’ he told the animal.

Faran opened his eyes and gave him a flat, unfriendly stare.

‘Go with this knight,’ Sparhawk instructed firmly. ‘Don’t try to bite him, or kick him, or pin him against the side of the stall with your rump – and don’t step on his feet, either.’

The big roan briefly laid back his ears and then sighed.

~Chapter 1

Hahahahahahaa! Ahhhhhh, how can you not love that? Of course, that is about the third time that the word “flat” or “flatly” has been used and it’s only chapter 1. I’d forgotten that aspect of this trilogy.

Currently Reading & Quote: Transfer of Power

How they felt back at Langley would be a different matter, entirely. Rapp had known this before he stepped out of the stash room with Adams some seventy minutes ago, but that was just tough shit. There were too many people sticking their fingers in the pie. This thing needed to be streamlined, and someone needed to take action. Sitting around and playing cautious was not in Rapp’s nature, especially where Aziz was concerned. Rapp knew whom he was dealing with, he knew what Aziz was up to, and if nobody else could figure it out, to hell with them. This was not one of those moments in life where disagreement was acceptable. This wasn’t a policy decision where it was difficult to quantify the benefits of one course over the other. This was black and white. Rapp knew what had to be done, and everyone else could kiss his ass if they weren’t on board.
~Page 335

Now that is what I’m talking about! I am going to enjoy this character.

My last literary encounter with a Secret Service’y agent (I’m ignoring the Delta Force series for this post) was the Scott Harvath series by Brad Thor. I dnf’d the 4th book, Blowback, because Harvath was an insufferable, arrogant asshat. While Rapp has that potential, so far he’s not been a jerk even once. He’s been competent and qualified and not afraid to stand up to political idiots. He’s the kind of character that makes me want to stand up and go “Rah, rah, rah”.

Currently Reading & Quotes: Clouds of Witness

I have always been a sincere Christian myself, but I cannot feel that our religion demands that we should make ourselves conspicuous – er – in such very painful circumstances.’ ~page 43

Ughh. How cowardly and unmanly. This wasn’t Lord Peter Wimsey who said this, but someone else. Good thing this guy wasn’t a First Century Christian. He’d have denied Christ to avoid the arena in a heartbeat.

I think my mother’s talents deserve a little acknowledgment. I said so to her, as a matter of fact, and she replied in these memorable words: “My dear child, you can give it a long name if you like, but I’m an old-fashioned woman and I call it mother-wit, and it’s so rare for a man to have it that if he does you write a book about him and call him Sherlock Holmes.” ~page 139

Oh, this made me laugh my head off. Good stuff!

‘Damn it all, we want to get at the truth!’
‘Do you?’ said Sir Impey drily. ‘I don’t. I don’t care twopence about the truth. I want a case. It doesn’t matter to me who killed Cathcart, provided I can prove it wasn’t Denver. It’s really enough if I can throw reasonable doubt on its being Denver. Here’s a client comes to me with a story of a quarrel, a suspicious revolver, a refusal to produce evidence of his statements, and a totally inadequate and idiotic alibi. I arrange to obfuscate the jury with mysterious footprints, a discrepancy as to time, a young woman with a secret, and a general vague suggestion of something between a burglary and a crime passionel. And here you come explaining the footprints, exculpating the unknown man, abolishing the discrepancies, clearing up the motives of the young woman, and most carefully throwing back suspicion to where it rested in the first place. What do you expect?’
‘I’ve always said,’ growled Peter, ‘that the professional advocate was the most immoral fellow on the face of the earth, and now I know for certain.’ ~Page 202

Lawyers have always been slimey and they always will be.

So 3 quotes from the first 200 pages. That has got to be some kind of record for me. The cover though rather confuses me. While this takes place in the Flapper era, flapper’s aren’t involved and the only young women involved are blondes. I’m guessing it’s some sort of royalty free cover to go with a royalty free edition? Not really important, just one of those things I wonder quickly about and then forget. Hence it’s inclusion here and not being saved for a review 😀

I am loving this though. Looks like a High Rating Ahead!

Currently Reading & Quote: Only in Death

“Then let’s get to it,” said Rawne. The officers hesitated for a moment. Rawne stared at them and then sighed.

“Oh, and the Emperor protects and you’re all going to live forever and all that…” he said with a wave of his hand. “I don’t do rousing or uplifting. Just get on with it.”

~Colonel Rawne to his officers

If I was a soldier in the Warhammer 40K universe, this would probably sum up my attitude about the so-called “Emperor” as well. It would have been funnier if the author could have worked in giving everyone a pony too. Oh well, not everyone is as talented as me.

First Line Friday: A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Folks, that is ONE sentence AND the opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens needs to be classified as the 8th Wonder of the World as far as I’m concerned!