kivrin: (Camelot (julesoh))
( Oct. 16th, 2014 11:46 am)
Hello, Yuletider! This is my first time at this rodeo and I am very excited both to write and to see what others write.

My name on AO3 is also Kivrin.

I will be so very happy to see fic in any of the fandoms I've requested. I've babbled a good deal here about what I love about each, and listed some prompts, but please don't feel limited by those if there's something else in the fandom that you're drawn to write.  You'll see there are a disproportionate number of prompts for Foyle's War - that's because I requested Any character there and so wanted to be sure to have prompts for characters individually as well as in combination, not because the other canons are of less interest to me!

What I like best: I love stories that fit into the interstices of canon - aftermaths of canon events, elaborations of references to past events, backstories, explorations of what-was-happening-back-at-the-ranch-while-[insert other action], and things like that. I love found families and deep friendships, so in romantic stories I particularly like it when the romantic partners' other relationships (friendly or familial) also play a role. Hurt/comfort, particularly with both physical and emotional elements, and with stoic or older characters needing to accept aid from others, is my bulletproof narrative kink.

Things I'm not fond of:
Stories in which suicide plays a prominent role are very difficult for me to read, and at this point I don't want to read nominated-character death, please.

Requested Characters: Any (Andrew Foyle, Christopher Foyle, Paul Milner, Samantha Stewart)

what I love about it )

Foyle's War Prompts )

ADAM DALGLIESH  (novels by P.D. James)
Requested Characters: Adam Dalgliesh

what I love about it )

Adam Dalgliesh prompts )

Requested Characters: David Mitchell

what I love about it )

QI RPF prompts )

Requested Characters: John Oliver, Andy Zaltzman, Jessica Williams

what I love about it )

Fake News RPF prompts )

Thank you so much, and happy writing!
kivrin: Peter Wimsey in academic dress (academic lord peter)
( Sep. 22nd, 2014 05:16 pm)
So, you remember in Gaudy Night how Lord Peter's "John Doe" name for a student is "Mr. Jones of Jesus [College]" and upon meeting Mr. Pomfret he says something along the lines of "Good God, it's Mr. Jones of Jesus" to which Mr. Pomfret replies "Who are you calling a bloody Welshman?"

I have always been mildly perplexed by Pomfret's response, but recent browsing through the histories of Oxford colleges* has revealed that Jesus College was for a time (as in, for about two centuries, from the early eighteenth century to the early twentieth though not at the time of its foundation in the early sixteenth century**) almost exclusively Welsh in student population, with fellowships reserved not merely for Welshmen but for men from SPECIFIC AREAS OF WALES.

So it's a college joke as well as a name joke.

* With the aim of choosing a college for Andrew Foyle. All we know, canonically, is that he's a member of the college Howard Paige attended, which is rather dire because given the apparent Trinity-Balliol rivalry it would be pleasing to send Paige to Trinity ("What could one expect of a Trinity man?" Lord Peter might say of HP) it would not be pleasing to condemn Andrew to the same fate.
**Insert Eddie Izzard routine about the attitude of Americans to history because that is the sort of face I keep making when I think hard about how long Oxford has been going.
What it actually says: seeking volunteers for a research study, blahblah qualifications, time/travel reimbursement available.

What I read: TIMETRAVEL reimbursement available.


- A lifetime of reading (mostly) amateur-sleuth mysteries is poor preparation for a police-procedural fandom, especially a very small one where there aren't fannish resources. I need a 20th-century law-enforcement equivalent of What Charles Dickens Ate and Jane Austen Knew.

- There appears to be no P.D. James fic in the world. Not even from Yuletide. Not even based on the dramatizations. I sort of expected there to be a small but devoted circle of Adam Dalgliesh/Cordelia Gray shippers writing multi-part curtainfic.

- Department of meta jokes: This bit of Acorn Media's "hey look at all the videos we'll sell you" montage, in which Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison says "Don't call me ma'am, I'm not the bloody queen" and there's a cut to Michael Kitchen as Christopher Foyle saying "Well, unfortunately, the evidence suggests otherwise."

- Apropos of the above, should The Doctor turn up, B&R and I are going to see tiny!baby!Helen Mirren in the 1965 National Youth Theater Antony and Cleopatra, with tiny!baby!Michael Kitchen in a small role. (And then we'll go see Antony Sher's Richard III and Patrick Stewart's Othello and the original cast of My Fair Lady and Liam Neeson and Laura Linney in The Crucible and...)

- Department of Foyle's War spoilers, Series 7/8 (depending on numbering) Ep 1: The Eternity Ring: Read more... ). Short version: still not planning to take anything after V-E Day as canon.

- I would really like to see the other scripts Anthony Horowitz apparently wrote for 1943 and 1944 but had to throw out due to ITV being all "hmph, only one more series for you."

- Connected only by WWII, Strange Glory by Charles Marsh is a very good life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It's... well, it's pretty grim, because Nazis, and there's a good deal of fairly serious theology covered, but it's readable and informative and I'm glad I'm reading it as my first Bonhoeffer bio and not the Eric Metaxes one.
kivrin: Wash from Firefly in a hawaiian shirt (wash shirt (seanarenay))
( Feb. 27th, 2014 12:50 pm)
Recently finished Longbourn by Jo Baker, which is highfalutin' professional Pride and Prejudice fanfic. I say that in no pejorative sense. It is focused on the servants in the house, and their own lives and concerns of the heart which must be squeezed in around hauling water and doing horrendous gobs of laundry (menstrual rags for five women, sweet Jesus have mercy.) It's very good. The narrative is primarily centered around the housemaid, but there is a lengthy digression into the footman's backstory which is quite violent, so be aware of that.

Also recently read Time for Tea by Erica H. Smith, which is a very satisfying time-travel novel with mystery and relationship elements. I described it on Goodreads as being situated in the Venn diagram overlap between Kage Baker and Connie Willis, specifically the elements of both which I most enjoy. There's the future-worldbuilding-and-politics of Baker and the historical-detail-and-emotional-compellingness of Willis. I'm in a semi-anonymous gift exchange right now and I've bought a second electronic copy of the book to send to my recipient. (The recipient I know to be a fan of the Outlander books by Diana Galbadon, which is of course a totally different and to my mind far less satisfying genre of time-travel story.)

I'm in the middle of Tamora Pierce's first Beka Cooper book, Terrier, and I'm enjoying it very much. I loved the Alanna books back in the day but I haven't kept up very well with Pierce's later work. I really enjoy how the culture and especially the religion of Tortall have more detail and texture in this book.
kivrin: a church choir (choir)
( Sep. 26th, 2013 03:06 pm)
I'm still slowly picking at the Alison Weir book on Mary Stuart and the death of Darnley. SO MANY DAMN NOBLES OMG. As a kid I had an old (probably circa 1935 though hard to say) novelized life-of-Mary-Queen-of-Scots that I read several times, and I browsed the Antonia Fraser bookstop of a biography, so there's a haze of deja vu around Bothwell and Rizzio and Marys Seton, Beaton, Fleming and Hamilton, but no real understanding. [ profile] breadandroses was asking, and I have no idea, why it is "Queen/King of Scots" and not "Scotland."

Series 2 of Call the Midwife is now up on Netflix; I roped [ profile] breadandroses into watching the Christmas special with me and look forward to enjoying the rest of it along with more of Foyle's War. We watched the first episode of Bomb Girls the other night and were underwhelmed except by the costumes. In the non-BBC, non-mid-twentieth-century vein, we did start watching Agents of SHIELD last night. I fell asleep halfway through, which is more of a commentary on "rhinoviruses are evil" and "watching most of my TV on Netflix and download has left me unused to putting up with commercial breaks" than on the show.
kivrin: Elizabeth I holding a book to her lips (elizabeth book)
( Sep. 11th, 2013 11:50 am)

Happy Accidents, an autobiography by Jane Lynch. Not enough acting and too much stereotypically-artsy spirituality for my taste, but an engaging book nonetheless. I wanted more detail about her work with Christopher Guest (I just typed Christopher Guffman, OOPS.) The speedy progress of JL's relationship with her now-wife Laura disturbed me since it involved JL rapidly becoming a parent to Laura's child from a previous marriage. And damn, a quick google reveals that they're divorcing after three years of marriage and four years together. That poor kid.

Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley by Allison Weir. Royal Families: still the original soap operas.

The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers by Harry Bernstein. Urban poverty and religious divisions in early-twentieth-century England. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn meets All-of-a-Kind Family.
Monday night I finished the second Maggie Hope book, Princess Elizabeth's Spy. It is even more of a WWII Mary Sue fanfic than the first book was. Not only does Maggie go to Windsor as an undercover protective spy for young Princess Elizabeth (unlikely but okay) she and the princess are spoiler ) Also there's new people-have-been-keeping-secrets-from-you crazy for Maggie (someone else she was told was dead isn't dead!) And there's feistiness. Maggie is soooo feisty. Super super feisty in the face of moustache-twirling sexism that completely crumbles before her feistiness.

I will admit that if Maggie was crushing on a spunky lady-in-waiting or dashing Land Army woman rather than a procession of fighter pilots and senior (and therefore of course male) spies I'd have more patience with all the soap-operatic plotting and the dicey details (surely a new tutor wouldn't be invited to call the heir to the throne "Lilibet," and the phrase "on lockdown" wasn't used in 1940s Britain in the modern what-you-do-when-there's-a-mad-gun-wielding-person-in-the-school sense? If only because UK English so often does different things with prepositions than US English does.)

The book was a good illustration of some of the points raised in this interesting article on Strong Female Characters that [ profile] penwiper26/[personal profile] eight_of_cups brought to my attention. It's as if the author doesn't trust readers to be interested in Maggie unless she's absolutely extraordinary - a brilliant mathematician, fluent in multiple languages, first to figure out all sorts of stuff, a favorite of Churchill, with a crazy history involving mysterious parents and hidden information. She can't just fight crime espionage, she has to be Super Super Special Good at it. She can't just be the protagonist because she's the protagonist, it has to be justified by her stupendousness.

It's tiring. And in the next book apparently she'll be parachuting into Germany (because she's totes fluent in German, of course!) I think I'll just reread Code Name Verity instead of pressing on with this series.

A novel about Wallis Simpson, The Shadow Queen by Rebecca Dean. I'm not sure if I'll finish it - it's pretty romance-novel-ish - but at the moment it's a diverting enough look at high society (and would-be high society) in US cities in the aughts. Since most of my reading about the Windsors has been focused on QEII and her parents, the texts have tended to take an anti-EdwardVIII and anti-Wallis tack to reflect the views of George VI and his family, so it's interesting to read something sympathetic to Wallis.

I'm also reading Joseph Anton, Salman Rushie's memoir of his years in hiding after the publication of The Satanic Verses. ("Joseph Anton" was his alias, compounded from the names of two writers he admires, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.) It is somewhat exhausting in its detail about the nuts and bolts of publishing negotiations - there are pages I want to stamp with AND PEOPLE WERE TOO SPOOKED TO PRINT HIS WORK because that's the upshot - but it is vivid and compelling about the emotional (and financial) cost of living under the radar.

All the furor about The Satanic Verses happened when I was old enough to take notice but not old enough to have much of a grasp of the situation. An author had been forced to go "into hiding" - I pictured a man under a table. Years later, in a critical theory class in college, I offered the image as a joke on my young self. It turns out, however, that Rushdie did have to make uncomfortably frequent dives under tables and into closets whenever unexpected visitors turned up at places he was staying.

I really like his prose in the memoir, and I particularly enjoy his choice to write in the third person. It gives a sense of the disconnection he felt, but it also effectively underlines the fact that he is a writer before anything, and making narrative out of experience is something he does as much as he breathes. Unfortunately I don't expect to get any further in reading his fiction than I already have, because magical realism just... does not ring my bells. But I may try again after Joseph Anton.


Absofricklinlutely no idea.
WHAT I MOST RECENTLY FINISHED: Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal.

My primary response to this book is to say, in the words of Eddie Izzard, "People, you're British. Scale it down a bit." Or, more specifically, be a young-woman-with-a-mysterious-past novel OR an espionage-in-wartime novel. Being both is just a little much. Also, try to reduce the number of pages spent on your protagonists figuring out something the reader has already been told. And explain why your red herring was so herring-y (though in fairness, maybe you did and the explanation was so flat that I looked right past it.)

If you have a weakness for women-in-WWII stories, you might find this a pleasant way to pass a few hours, but you'll also probably know as much (or more) about the setting than the author does and thus spend time sighing and saying YES I KNOW ABOUT ANDERSON SHELTERS CAN WE MOVE ON.

...I'm still going to read the next book in the series, though, because it's titled Princess Elizabeth's Spy. And because the mysterious-past thread does get cleared up in this volume, so I can hope the next will be more focused.
One of the Kindle Daily Deals is $1.99 for Strong Poison. Get it here.
WHAT I WAS READING ON THE WAY TO WORK: Mrs. Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light - a biography/social history of women who worked for Virginia (Stephens) Woolf's family. It's very readable, highly interesting, and highlights the class issues at work among the Bloomsbury group.

WHAT I MOST RECENTLY FINISHED: Back Story, an autobiography by the comedian and actor David Mitchell, not to be (but now even more easily) confused with the novelist David Mitchell. He is even more neurotic than his panel-show persona suggests, and as such is a very reassuring object lesson that People Who Think Too Much can grow up to be Just Fine and in fact Quite Happy.

I am still getting used to the fact that people in mid-career in comedy are my age, and that if I met them I would be nervous about being, not young and insignificant, but just plain insignificant. Though, on the plus side, we could potentially bond about generational things, like "hearing about Salman Rushdie having to go into hiding and imagining him under a table." David Mitchell would get that. John Oliver, possibly not so much.

WHAT I MOST RECENTLY REREAD: Drastically Redefining Protocol, a present-day Merlin BBC AU by Rageprufrock. I wish Hunith wasn't so weepy but otherwise I still enjoy it down to the ground.

WHAT'S UP NEXT: Possibly Shooting Victoria, nonfiction about assassination attempt(s) on Queen Victoria.
kivrin: Elizabeth I holding a book to her lips (elizabeth book)
( Apr. 17th, 2013 07:50 pm)
WHAT I WAS READING ON THE WAY TO WORK: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. And a long gen seaQuest fanfic, AU after season 1, in which the only allusion to a certain character is "Admiral Smith's daughter had been killed in the attack on [place X]."

WHAT I MOST RECENTLY FINISHED: Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose.

WHAT I MOST RECENTLY REREAD: Bits of The Mercy Rule by Perri Klass.

WHAT'S UP NEXT: Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl because I've, uh, never actually read it. I was thinking, while I was reading the Francine Prose book, that I don't actually remember finding out about the Holocaust. I surmise that it was between when I was five and when I was eight or nine but I'm not sure. I think it was The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss, which I got out of the library at my school in India around my ninth birthday, that kicked off my READ ALL THE YA HOLOCAUST NOVELS stage, and it was I Am Rosemarie by Marietta Moskin that I read over and over. And The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black, since it's come in at the library.
kivrin: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes looking elegant (Holmes (wens))
( Apr. 10th, 2013 02:05 pm)
WHAT I WAS READING ON THE WAY TO WORK: Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose (with a name like that, how could one NOT become a student of literature? And/or a novelist, as the case seems to be?) It's a fascinating exploration of the diary of Anne Frank as a piece of literature and as a cultural phenomenon, with sections on the creation, publication, adaptation to theater and film, and use in education. Last night and this morning I was reading the section on Holocaust deniers' attacks on the book.

WHAT I MOST RECENTLY FINISHED: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. I <3 Gen. That is all.

WHAT I MOST RECENTLY REREAD: Have His Carcase, Dorothy L. Sayers. Don't pay full price for the Kindle ebooks of LPW books. THEY HAVE TYPOS. It is not ok. Semi-recently I have also reread five or six of the Dragonriders of Pern books, which was interesting mostly in that it made me notice what I didn't notice when I read them in the early nineties. I remembered that I'd been disappointed by the "SETTLERS FROM EARTH" backstory because I didn't want science fiction mixed up with dragons, but I'd forgotten how present that thread was from early on, and had totally missed the suggestions of 60s/70s commune values that appear in the favorable contrast between sexually liberated weyrs and conservative holds.

WHAT'S UP NEXT: Something by Neal Stephenson (I have both Anathem and Cryptonomicon on my reader) or, if it comes in at the library, The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black.
The most exciting sort of present to receive, I think, is a totally-unexpected-yet-highly-readable-and-engaging book, and this one (a Christmas gift from my parents) totally fits that description. Death Comes to Pemberley is P.D. James writing Austen fanfic and it's good fun, though a reader's mileage will vary depending upon what she likes and dislikes in Austen and in James. I found things to enjoy and things to enjoy quibbling with, so it's a win-win.

The short, nonspoilery comment is "This is pretty much what you might expect, in that it's what you'd get if you put Pride and Prejudice in a Cuisinart with Original Sin or possibly Shroud for a Nightingale - a pre-professional-police-force police procedural, featuring the Darcy family and associates."

spoilers within )
Oh, Downton Abbey, you are not going to leave a single lick of melo un-drama'd, are you? Not even one. I'm okay with that now that one particular storyline has been run into the ground. Bates and Matthew need to have a [spoiler]-off for the title of Most Needs A G&S Operetta Written About His Stiff Upper Lip And Excessive High-handed Moral Nobility. Up next, I presume we're going to have the influenza pandemic?

Oh, Merlin, thank you for dispensing with the Projectiles Mean I Care trope that succeeded the Humorous Coda Is Pastede On Yaye trope.

Oh, QI, you... were really off your game this past week. Though watching a bunch of people attempt ventriloquism was pretty amusing.

I just finished the worst novel-length prose object I have ever fully read. It's the sort of thing that one might want to have on hand as proof that publishers do actually perform a valuable service of protecting readers from assault but its/it's mistakes, missing commas, gratuitous italics ("I'll go down the hall to borrow some coffee from missing persons"), and bizarre variations in capitalization (a local convenience store chain is rendered as Wawa on page 23 and WaWa on page 25.)

The prose object in question is titled Murder at the Mikvah and anyone who drives a lot in the Philadelphia area may have seen billboards for it along I-95. That's because the author's dad owns a billboard business and puts up his daughter's book ad whenever one is open. It's published by iUniverse, an outfit that clearly just fed the author's Word doc into a machine and pressed "Print & Bind."

The plot is distinguished by a lot of infodumps about Jewish religious practice, lashings of obvious misdirection and foreshadowing, and some heavy-handed psychology. I rather enjoyed the "Hey, Jews! Become more observant!" didacticism as a refreshing change from remembered "Hey, everybody! Recite this prayer and be Saved!" didacticism.

Next up: a mystery novel that will probably be bad but shouldn't have nearly as many typos: Jill Paton Walsh's The Attenbury Emeralds: her first attempt to write Lord Peter without even a few struts of DLS' prose to hold the thing up. A Presumption of Death was pretty dire so my hopes aren't high, but it was in at the library, so I shall attempt it. Further bulletins as events warrant.
[ profile] breadandroses and I took a Last Gasp Of Summer trip to Boston over the long weekend. It was, overall, lovely, but a bit odd as always to keep crashing against younger versions of myself.

We went out to Concord on Friday, where we visited the home of Louisa May Alcott and the Old North Bridge where there was the first formal engagement between British and American forces. At the house we had a tour from a friendly but disorganized guide, and at the bridge we listened to a stirring (a word that here means "over the top") account of the skirmish from a talking box and then a more nuanced conversation with a park ranger about the memorialization of the battle and particularly the small monument to the three British soldiers killed there. Being a park ranger would make me crazy, but I do covet the Smoky-the-Bear hats.

On Saturday we made a pilgrimage to the New England Mobile Book Fair - which, I observed as a child, would better be called the New England Immobile Book Fair because it is, literally, a warehouse. Everything is at least 20% off list price there, and the remainders rooms are wonderlands. The management keeps overhead down by simplifying the shelving: all the new books are organized by publisher and within that by title, so everything that comes in can go straight onto the shelf with no sorting. (The markdowns are sorted by genre and within that by author... sometimes.) When I was young there were multiple copies of BOOKS IN PRINT through which you would browse to find the publisher you needed. Now, of course, it's computer terminals, but there's still a luddite feeling to the operation, given that the terminals are running something like Windows 2000. The age of Amazon has definitely dealt the Book Fair a blow; I've never seen the parking lot so empty, even on a weekday, and this was a Saturday afternoon. I bought more than I would have anywhere else (viz. a nice paperback Pippi Longstocking, a new-to-me Emma Donoghue, and a freestanding copy of A Study In Scarlet) just to do a little something for a beloved institution.

On Sunday, after church, we went to another local institution tenaciously holding on into the internet age: the West Newton Cinema. Though it lives in infamy in my memory as the place I once spilled a large root beer across the lobby carpet and had to clean it up with teeny tiny napkins under the gleefully critical eye of an elderly patron who chirped "look what you did!" as I scuttled after ice cubes, it also lives in fond memory as the place I could get hot tea to go along with The Madness of King George. We saw Rob Brydon and Steve Cooper in The Trip, a fictionalized account of a road trip the two comedians took through the north of England. It's a bit humiliation-squicky in places but sidesplitting in others, as when Rob and Steve start doing dueling Michael Caine impressions, or when, in the course of long drives, they start riffing on random things like costume dramas. You'll be able to tell if someone's seen this film by their response to you barking "To bed!" at them.
kivrin: Elizabeth I holding a book to her lips (elizabeth book)
( Sep. 6th, 2011 01:38 pm)
- I scored a used copy of Anne Lamott's latest novel, Imperfect Birds, which revisits the characters of Rosie and Crooked Little Heart. I'm enjoying it significantly more than I expected to, by which I mean "significantly more than her last novel Blue Shoe which was rather spoiled for me by the fact that I'd read most of the most affecting bits as autobiographical essays on" It has a lot to do with teenagers using drugs and it makes me desperately grateful that I didn't find myself in circles where drug use was normative because it sounds like so. much. work. And adolescence sucks enough without adding hangovers and bad trips to the mix.

- Thinking about Blue Shoe makes me remember a line in it about how Mattie (the narrator) sometimes felt like running down her mother in a parking lot, but that when she felt like that but acted humanely it seemed to repair something in her soul. When I first read that, honestly, I thought "What the fuck ever. I have been being nice when feeling like acid my entire life and I'm sick of it." But when I think back on it now I see a difference between what Mattie's describing and what I spent a great swathe of my life doing. Mattie isn't discounting her anger at her mother and pretending it's not there and beating herself up for being angry. She's acknowledging the anger but choosing not to act on it. And that makes all the difference, particularly with letting yourself feel good about how you're acting (or trying to act) rather than bad about how you're feeling (or trying not to feel.)

- Yesterday I read Emma Donoghue's The Sealed Letter. I can report that it is not of the Slammerkin genre, but not the Stir-Fry or Landing genre either. Closest to Hood on the misery index but not focused on the experience of grief. Also very reminiscent of Sarah Waters' Affinity. To be more useful - it's based on a real divorce case from London in 1864, and it's intensely readable but also rather grim because everyone in the book is unhappy and many are cruel.

- Reread The Lyre of Orpheus last week. Still love Robertson Davies, the snarkiest Canadian to ever snark.

- Read Ink Library by NicoleAnell, a story about Wesley and Dawn and rewritten memories.
Quite some time ago I read a biography of C.S. Lewis which was so interesting that I wanted to write a post about it. A really chewy post.

You all know what happens next, I'm sure. Or, given the fact that I haven't posted for over a month, you can guess.

So, briefly and incompletely - the bio I read is by A.N. Wilson, and anyone who was paying more attention than I was to Lewis studies in the mid-1990s - which would be anyone paying any attention at all, or at least, both my parents and [ profile] penwiper26 - might remember hearing of as having a negative spin.

I didn't find it meanspirited or even particularly negative, in the sense of having a JACK LEWIS WAS A JERK take-home message. It is a critical biography, but "critical" in the sense of "analytical" not in the sense of "passing judgment on the subject and finding him wanting." Specifically, though Wilson illustrates a number of ways in which Lewis-as-experienced-by-his-students-and-colleagues differs from Lewis-as-experienced-by-readers, and indeed ways in which Lewis'-life-as-known-from-the-historical-record differs from Lewis'-life-as-recounted-in-Surprised by Joy, he never seems to use the variations to accuse Lewis of dishonesty or hypocrisy, and indeed seems to find Lewis intelligent, skilled, and interesting, if rather an odd duck.

Things that Wilson does snark at, in descending order of magnitude-of-snark:

- Lewis's early poetry. (If his first publication, Dymer, is an artistic and emotional touchstone for you, you probably should not read this biography.) (You should also not read this biography if it would distress you to consider the possibility that Lewis might have been sexually intimate with as many as two women in his entire life, one pre-conversion and one his wife.)
- Walter Hooper, literary advisor to the estate of C.S. Lewis and (in Wilson's view) quite a silly self-important man who has made much hay out of quite a brief personal association with Lewis.
- American C.S. Lewis fans who seem keen to reimagine Lewis in their own image - whether that image is (in the case of Hooper) traditionalist Roman Catholic or (in the case of Wheaton College) teetotal casserole-eating non-dancing G-movie-watching mainstream evangelical. (To paraphrase Anne Lamott, we can be sure we've recreated C.S. Lewis in our own image when we are sure he drank only the same things we do.)

- the Small Change trilogy, by Jo Walton (Farthing, Ha'penny, and Half a Crown, in that order.) Mysteries set in an alternate UK that made peace with Hitler in 1941. Depressing (because the only thing more depressing than historical fascism is EXPANDED historical fascism, avec bonus explicit homophobia) and fascinating (1940s genderswap production of Hamlet?? YES PLEASE.) Does not end with unrelieved gloom.

- The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson. What Eat Pray Love would have been if the author had more perspective. It's a memoir by an American woman who went to Cairo to teach English, converted to Islam and fell in love. It's particularly remarkable how she manages to describe the experience of being a young American woman learning to navigate shopping and housekeeping in a totally different culture and climate without either downplaying her own fear and discomfort or totally exoticizing the world she's entering.

- Volume 5 of the Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery. Makes me glad all over again to live in an age of medicine that has a fair chance of actually working.

- rereading Long May She Reign by Ellen Emerson White, the fourth book in the President's Daughter series. I couldn't put it down, but at the same time I found it rather more distressing on rereading than I had the first time through. I wanted to take Meg by the shoulders and tell her to get. some. fucking. therapy. And failing that I wished her resistance to the idea had been fleshed out just a little bit.

- White Collar via iTunes. Continues to be love.
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie on my beloved Netflix streaming. B&R and I are trying to pace ourselves because there's not NEARLY as much of it as we wish there were.
- Any bits of Dara O'Briain, Irish standup comedian, that I can find.

We now have a new director of music, a new organist, and paid section leaders, which in some ways is marvelous (we sound awesome every time!) and in some ways makes me feel both inadequate and superfluous (we sound awesome whether I open my mouth or not!) We're singing some very lovely stuff, which is an unmitigated yay. Two weekends ago we had a choral evensong which came off excellently, featuring a Slavonic _Phos Hilaron,_ acres of Herbert Howells (Magnificant, Nunc Dimitis, psalm setting, and two hymns), and a spiritual.

I find it most unfair that it can be thirty-odd or even twenty-odd degrees every morning, and not more than forty-five at the heat of the day, but I am STILL getting springtime allergies. MOST unfair. *rubs eyes*
Whited Out, or, Hodbins In Narnia, by [ profile] penwiper26.
- Have read Blackout and All Clear. I can imagine the sort of criticism that might be leveled at them (FEWER EXAMPLES, CONNIE), but I don't agree with it (LOVE THE EXAMPLES, CONNIE.) Connie Willis can write as much logistics!porn as she likes and I will read it all. I totally did the "finish book and proceed immediately to reading it over again from the beginning" thing. There were a few timey-wimey things that I guessed ahead of time, but most I did not. And of course, in Connie Willis, the timey-wimey is mostly a means to an end.

- Have been reading more Austerity Britain which is my very favorite kind of history - lots of tasty primary sources stitched elegantly together.

- Finished The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. It's by far the least Gothic of her first four books (I haven't yet read the fifth), but ultimately it's the most depressing. Not quite Slammerkin depressing, but headed in that direction. Spoilers beneath. )

- Am rereading Laurie R. King's With Child, the third Kate Martinelli novel, for what might be the first time since high school or college. It's a lot more depressing when the characters I once looked at as grown-ups are peers. Still, it's hard to put down, because King is really, really that good.

- I'm also doing a haphazard reread-all-of-Anne-Lamott project. Sadly, I think my copy of Traveling Mercies is not coming home, but I don't mind buying another. I've reread Bird by Bird and Operating Instructions and almost all of Grace (Eventually) and I've got Plan B by my bed.

- I'm also dipping in to The Year of the King again (Antony Sher's memoir of playing Richard III.) This time I'm really savoring all the physical backstage details of the Barbican, and remembering how much pleasure it gave me, when at drama camp, to mentally call the PA system that carried the show back to the dressing rooms "the tannoy." When I first read TYotK I was probably at the height of my want-to-be-an-actor-ness, and so reading it is nostalgic in a good way.

- On that theatrical note, for my birthday [ profile] breadandroses gave me Stephen Fry's new autobiography The Fry Chronicles, which picks up directly where Moab is my Washpot left off and covers the ensuing ten-ish years of his life. It was... honestly, it was a bit disappointing, primarily because it never quite settles down to being either a narrative of his emotional life or a chronology of his professional development, which means that it... well... it rather lurches. Partly (and laudably) this is due to the fact that many of the other figures in the narrative are famous in their own rights and he chooses not to go into much detail about his early experiences with them except to say, repeatedly and warmly, that Hugh and Emma (in particular) are absolutely spiffing and brilliant and lovely. Which WE ALL KNOW, thank you very much, Stephen, and would just like a tiny bit more of your POV on the whole Emma-trapping-you-in-the-hallway-while-she-ran-about-aggressively-naked situation. (I never dreamed, years ago, that Peter's Friends might in some ways be a LESS odd version of Stephen's Christmas parties.) Or, if you're not going to do that, which would be a very reasonable choice, maybe you could take us through the emotional experience of college with not quite so much time on the academic set-up? I mean, as a clueless American I'm grateful for the tutelage, particularly as to the differences between Cambridge and Oxford, but... well, the relationship with Kim, for example, is all a bit pat and Kim doesn't seem to have much personality. Which, again, is very courteous, but also frustrating.
- Giant, stupid work project of rage is complete. I may be a slightly less tedious conversationalist now. Maybe.

- I have repaid my karmic debt to Greyhoundliz for her heroic scrubbing of the Lush Youki-hi bath bomb stains out of my tub the last time I moved. To wit: I scrubbed her stovetop, her sink, and two freezers.

- I should not gain any merit from taking Science Soprano's cantoring responsibilities for Sunday, since I will enjoy getting to cantor for R the choir director one last time before she buggers off for her fabulous new job in FRANCE.

- Though maybe I should, since I am also up next week, and will have to be the first to work with Interim!ChoirGuy and Interim!Organist.

- Though Wednesday is my late morning, today I got up at more or less the regular time and... well, mostly read and drank tea, but I did also do a load of laundry and create a tiny bit more order in the apartment.

- I'm on a London-Blitz-and-postwar kick, it seems - I've been grazing in David Kynaston's monumental Austerity Britain, as well as reading Connie Willis' All Clear and Sarah Waters' The Night Watch. Recommendations gratefully accepted.


kivrin: Peter Wimsey with a Sherlock Holmes quotation (Default)


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