Per my last blog post, i waltzed through Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion in a couple of weeks — pretty speedy by the standards of someone who does 95% of my reading on screen. But a chapter or two a day gets through the thing. At first it was like climbing a hill, frequently losing the sense of those long, wandering sentences, getting distracted, rereading. But as the story gathered momentum, and my literary perseverance developed, it became easier, and then a pleasure, to pick up the book. I even took to reading regularly in the evenings, something i rarely do.
It was also a vaguely disturbing book to read, in that pretty much the entire action is the British upper crust — landed gentry, with money and basically no useful function in society — struggling and scheming to occupy, amuse or advance themselves and their family, in fairly cut-throat fashion. Continue reading “Gentry then and now”
With the warm weather, it occurred to me to revisit an old summer tradition: the tackling of a classic novel. I’ve had ol’ Chuck Dickens’ Bleak House (‘the ultimate legal novel’) on my list for a long while, so i popped into a Nanaimo used bookstore to see if they had a copy. On a tall double shelf labelled ‘Classics’ i found lots of Dickens books, but not that one. I also noticed lots of something else: dead white males, who apparently compose the vast bulk of our ‘classics’ canon.
With one glaring exception: this particular shelf held half a metre of Jane Austen novels. So in solidarity with the feminine, i picked up one of those: Persuasion. Which i’m three chapters into, and making heavy weather of, thanks to the long, looping multi-clausal sentences that are the hallmark of the pre-modern period. Here, for illustration, is the first sentence of the novel (which is also most of the first paragraph):
Continue reading “Summer read: Persuasion”
The strange case of The Future is Japanese.
I’ve been looking for this book for a year, based on an interest in Japanese culture and in one of the book’s editors, Nick Mamatas. It’s subtitled Science Fiction Futures and Brand New Fantasies From and About Japan, and the Amazon blurb says: A web browser that threatens to conquer the world. The longest, loneliest railroad on Earth. A North Korean nuke hitting Tokyo, a hollow asteroid full of automated rice paddies, and a specialist in breaking up “virtual” marriages. And yes, giant robots. These thirteen stories from and about the Land of the Rising Sun run the gamut from fantasy to cyberpunk, and will leave you knowing that the future is Japanese!
Continue reading “The Future … is missing”