Orion Reads
a diary of books etc.

Friday, September 30, 2005


I'm on this like vitriol roll.

I thumbed thru the copy of Gaiman's new Anansi Boys, and more or less thought it was pretty fluffy. I've never been a Gaiman fan tho. I think he's doing an excellent job of sort of taking up the mantel of Douglas Adams. Whom i loved in junior high but pretty much no longer have the patience for.

To mediate the vitriol,
i thumbed thru Early English Lyrics: Amorous, Divine, Moral and Trivial (london, 1966) last night at Jennifer and Tanya's place. It's a collection of poetry circa 1400, and the amorous section especially had some pretty piercing pieces. I was shocked to come upon the following poem, because i thought it had been a creation of my favorite band, Current 93:
Western wind, when will thou blow
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!

It's gorgeous.

I was impressed when i asked Tanya if she knew if "Westen wind, when will thou blow" is a famous poem or one she's heard of, and she immediately quoted the rest of the verse.

Another was a love poem where the guy is all "Yeah my heart is crushed because my girl done left me for another, but also it's nto so crushed because the other guy is really a good guy, way better than me, so if she's happy, i'm happy". - which, ow.

Elsewhere in the non-vitriolic department,
after detouring thru Perdido Street, i'm back with Infinite Jest and i love it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

South Pole

I'm leaving in two weeks for the south pole of the earth.

I'll be taking Infinite Jest because i'm still not finished.

I think i'll also take The Bible because i've never read it and i'd like to read the bible's account of Jesus. It's fascinating to me how many different versions of Jesus there are in the world today. There's the Jesus of Dofstoyevski, who is basically a martyr but not so much of a saviour; there's the Jesus of the born-agains, who (literally?) enters into your heart; there's the Jesus of mainstream american christianity who apparently "Saves!" with a twangy accent; there's the jesus of Salinger, who is pretty much indistinguishable from Buddha; of course the Crusades; and c. The various flavours of Jesus basically span a really wide range, so i feel i should sit down and read the darned thing and get an idea for what they're all based on. Plus there will be plenty of time down there for reading, i suspect. I guess i may not actually Take one, there's probably one there.

For the rest of my reading diet, i think i'll be relying on what other visitors have left over the years, which should be a fairly interesting collection.

For more info on what i'm up to, visit elenzil.com/ohpolar.

Perdido Street Station, Tony Takitani

Mike and Nevada brought me down a copy of Perdido Street Station by China Mièville. As i think i mentioned earlier, i read his short story Reports of Certain Events in London and absolutely loved it to pieces. That story is basically the tale of "feral streets" which appear and disappear in regular city neighborhoods and which are only perceived by a certain group of people who have somehow started looking really hard. The interesting part is that the streets seem to have a society of their own, which the humans try to tease out. For example the streets sometimes appear in disarray, as if attacked, or there may be evidence that two streets have joined forces and perhaps even bred! So very abstract and intriguing stuff, and Mièville basically writes a decent paragraph, so it was a wonderful read. Perdido Street Station unfortunately really doesn't have the high-level abstraction i was hoping for, however. As far as i'm concerned, it's a luridly textured monster story with a large helping of "Steam-Punk" mixed in. (Which if there's one thing i find really turns me off, it's steam-punk.) Perdido Street Station is basically like an H.R. Geiger painting: it's fabulously textured, it's dark, it's organic, it's well executed, but really, what's the point ? There's little there to really engage the imagination.

I want to add that China's monsters, these "Slake-Moths", are basically Leaf-Cutter Ants. Leaf-cutters fertilize and farm fungi and then eat it, which is pretty much what the slake-moths do with human dreams*. Similar to my complaint about The Cave, there's basically no motivation or character to these monsters besides Hunger. Granted, The Weaver is a pretty neat monster, as far as motivation goes. Actually The Weaver may be one of my favorite monsters of all time. It's basically a gigantic god-like multi-dimensional spider who views time, space, society, human events, relationships, etc as a giant web, and who's sole motivation is to make the pattern of the web "as pretty" as possible. Which is pretty neat.

* Well really, human nightmares. China: couldn't you've given them an appetite for All sorts of dreams, not just bad dreams ? That seems like a pretty arbitrary and tedious decision there.

Michelle and i went to see Toni Takitani, which is a movie adaptation of a Huraki Murakami short story. DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE IF IT IS REMOTELY WITHIN YOUR POWER TO NOT DO SO. It's pretty horrible. Basically nothing happens except the audience is informed that PEOPLE ARE LONELY. Which is a fine message, but there really wasn't enough um.. pudding under the sugar crust to cushion the message. I think the worst part is that 90% of the story is told via narration, and not just narration but narration with sad, slow, sad, slow piano music playing in the background only when the narrator is speaking. It pretty much robbed me of my soul for an evening.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

weird reading/travel coincidences

this is really just me kind of bragging about how much i've travelled lately, but maybe if i write that right at the front it'll like not be so.

so i've made 4 flights in the last um 8 or 9 months:
marseilles, philadelphia, boston, and am currently in houston.

in marseilles, i was reading The Destiny of Isabelle Eberhardt, which large portions of take place in marseille.

in philly i forget what i was reading. not much, i think.

in boston however, i was reading Infinite Jest, which large portions of take place in. like specific street intersections and stuff. like the giant "Citgo" neon sign.

and now in houston, i'm still reading IJ, which has no portions in texas, But it does refer to the "Whataburger" fast food chain, which i'd assumed was fiction, but lo! Houston is crawling with Whataburgers.

that's all.

kim stanley robinson sucks

i just want to say real quick that Kim Stanley Robinson (red/green/blue mars trilogy, antarctica) is one of the crappiest authors going in quality science-fiction today. he's got a real flair for addressing the tedious, the tediously political, the tediously psychointerpersonal, and especially the tediously geologic. KIM: What is it with you and describing every pebble in every layer of strata of every crater or glacier on mars or antarctica ? you describe them well, but once or possibly twice is enough. Per Book mind, Not Per Page. your interest in political and interpersonal intrigue is promising, but WOW do you make it uninteresting. I think it might do you some good to write a real flight-of-fancy novel. Break free from the near-future stuff you've been doing with mars & the cold place. write about time travel or aliens for gosh sakes. Posit a future with no senate-sub-committee analogues. (He actually writes about senate sub-committees, folks) Or maybe just take some drugs or something. PLEASE, stop producing crap like Antarctica. Thank you.

i should add that since Mykle is unexpectedly and disappointingly not going to antarctica this season, Kai got him K.S.Robinson's Antarctica sort of in-lieu, and it's been hanging out in the bathroom. i haven't actually read it, but i've thumbed thru it at leisure, and which see the above.