FF: You Must Remember This

Mei-Ling Embraces Miss Marple

I’m just about finished with the biography of David Bowie I’ve been reading.  My general impression of this book overall is that the editor has an agenda.  This is a good time to remind people that “biography” and even “autobiography” are not fact, but a delicate dance between fact and opinion, because the writer, compiler, or editor makes choices as to what to include and how to lead into various sensitive issues.

With David Bowie: The Oral History, I was particularly annoyed by the lack of a bibliography, since without that the editor is creating the impression that he spoke to each and every person, and at the time the book was compiled when, in fact, he is clearly cherry-picking from a host of sources.  That said, reading it was an interesting intellectual exercise.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazines.  The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  Largely from the POV of Alleyne’s now-grown son.  Minor complaint, in the light of having also recently read Spinsters in Jeopardy is that there is no mention of the fact that this is not the first time Alleyne’s job put his son at risk.

Spinsters in Jeopardy by Ngaio Marsh.  Audiobook.  This one goes back to when Alleyne and Troy’s son, Ricky, was six.  A bit of an initial jolt after him being a young man in Last Ditch.  Also raises the question of why the kids of detectives are so often precocious and rather bratty. 

In Progress:

Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie.  I could probably recite some of these aloud, but I needed something both absorbing and yet familiar to read before bed.  My dreams have been loaded with anxiety.

Pasttime by Robert B. Parker.  Audiobook.  Just starting.  I read this years and years ago, and cannot remember anything but that I liked it.

David Bowie: The Oral History compiled by Dylan Jones.  Bowie is dead.  Editor is mixing reactions of friends and family to the event with a look at the cultural impact not only of Bowie, but of reactions to his death.

Also:

Smithsonian magazine, which has apparently been put on a diet.  The letter’s column contains a reference to the Covid-19 pandemic, which brings the issue into current events.

14 Responses to “FF: You Must Remember This”

  1. Alan Robson Says:

    I think I’ll give this Bowie biography a miss. Your comment a while back that sometimes Bowie is taken way too seriously struck a chord with me. I’ve seen him perform live and I’ve seen him interviewed on TV and the one thing that always shines through is his sense of humour. He never took himself seriously, so why should we?


    -Alan

    • janelindskold Says:

      And there are many people interviewed here who would agree. But I’d give this one a miss overall, although there are a many lovely anecdotes, I don’t like the editor’s approach. My academic self comes out.

  2. Beverly Martin Says:

    I loved the Miss Marple stories and also loved the old black and white movies with Margaret Rutherford as the title character!

    This week I read Knight: A Chronicle of the Sibyl’s War (Book 2) by Timothy Zahn. The story was about a 95% rerun of the first book, Pawn. There were a few additions and more information about the characters and the ship was disclosed. I think Zahn is a good writer, so I plan to read the next book.

    I finished Wolf’s Search (Firekeeper Saga #7) I really enjoyed it. Firekeeper and Blind Seer lived up to my expectations, like old friends. I liked getting to know the other characters, too. The plot was suspenseful and exciting. Thanks for a great book and I am looking forward to the next one.

    • janelindskold Says:

      Thank you… Wolf’s Soul picks up RIGHT after Wolf’s Search…

      I DO love Miss Marple. Agatha Christie had several strong old women in her life, and she really channels them for Miss Marple. A message WAY ahead of its time that older doesn’t mean used up or useless.

  3. James Mendur Says:

    Still reading the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire. I’ve finished 8 books and most of the short stories. Just the 9th book (the most recent) and the rest of the short stories in that series to go … until the next book comes out in a year or so. I’m a little uneasy about book 9, since this will be the first book in the series from a non-human POV, always a tricky thing.

    After that, I’ll probably re-read something familiar.

    On the other hand, a lot of publishers (large and small) have been giving out free copies of e-books during the pandemic. I’ve gotten the first 4 Murderbot novellas by Martha Wells (I’d read the first one), Dickinson’s 1st Baru Cormorant book, Scalzi’s Redshirts (that would be a re-read), and a half dozen smaller press novels by authors I’ve never heard of. And that’s without checking Baen’s free library on their website to see if there were any additions. So I have a lot of new books to read as well.

    Also, the latest “Fiction River” anthology from my subscription has come in: all cat stories. And I’m haven’t read everything from that subscription yet, either.

    Y’know, the thing about eBooks is that you can have a tsundoku so big that you couldn’t finish it in three lifetimes, but it all fits on a single flash drive so you don’t realize it until you LOOK.

    • janelindskold Says:

      You expressed concern about Middlegame sounding like horror. Do you consider the Incrypid’s horror?

      • James Mendur Says:

        No, the InCryptid series is straight urban fantasy (well, in some books and stories, it’s Weird West, or Australian Outback fantasy, or Amusement Park fantasy … but mostly urban fantasy).

        I’ll let McGuire’s website describe the series and books.
        http://seananmcguire.com/incryptid.php

        I think the writing is good, with dark humor seasoned in among the fights and running and problem solving and drama.
        My favorite line in the book: “Grandma Alice insists he’s alive, and my mother raised me never to contradict anyone who regularly carries grenades.”

        Plus, the mice are hilarious.

      • janelindskold Says:

        Thank you, James. Some of the descriptions made me think otherwise. Can they be read out of order?

      • James Mendur Says:

        Each book provides enough of the previous books’ info so people don’t get lost, thus providing certain spoilers.

        There *is* a timeline to them but because they feature different narrators, you don’t necessarily have to read all of them in order. That being said, if you’re not going to read them all, the following groups of books lump together by narrator, so I suggest they should be read in order within their group:
        1, 2, 5 (narrator Verity Price set in NYC, NYC and L.A.)
        3, 4 (narrator Alex Price set in Ohio and Australia)
        6, 7, 8 (narrator Antimony Price – book 8 has an extra novella about Alex – set mostly in a traveling carnival, an amusement park, and small town Maine)
        So, start with either book 1, book 3 or book 6.

        Or, if you don’t mind spoilers, check out some of the short stories on McGuire’s website and decide for yourself if you like the style before you commit to a whole book. The free short story about Antimony, “Blocked” is pretty much spoiler free and will give you a feel for the tone and themes of the series:
        http://seananmcguire.com/icshorts.php#a

    • janelindskold Says:

      Thank you!

  4. Harried Harry Says:

    I’ve reread a few books from Louis L’Amour since I needed a change in reading. These are decent books with plots understood by the second chapter but still decent to read. Otherwise, not much reading since I’m working in the yard and garden.

    I’ll need to try the InCryptid series. I love James Medur’s quoting about Grandma Alice, a character I can understand.

    • janelindskold Says:

      I like L’Amour quite a bit. What I’ve found since I moved to the southwest is that he deserves more credit for accurate descriptions of both landscape and different cultures. Like many popular authors (Agatha Christie for one) there grew up a fashion for sniffing in a superior fashion and dismissing. Of course, L’Amour’s early works do not live up to his later…

      • Louis Robinson Says:

        What can be difficult to remember is that L’Amour’s early – and quite a bit of the later – stuff was either pulp fiction or expansions of things originally written for the pulps. They suffered constraints of length, theme and style that make them read oddly today. Not that an awful lot of current fiction doesn’t suffer under new versions of the same three constraints. It’s just that they’re _our_ constraints, so we like it that way. Mostly.

        Some of the later Sackett books feel kind of forced to me, as if he had simply set out to write a cracking good historical yarn in that setting, but the publisher wanted to be able to tie them to his well-established brand. So linking them in to the family story required elements to be either altered a bit or bolted on. Something that didn’t happen to The Walking Drum, and I really regret he never got back to that story.

      • janelindskold Says:

        I’m not a fan of the later attempts at turning the Sacketts into historical fiction. L’Amour simply did not handle the material well. In one book, he even forgot a character periodically. My sense was that he was longing to be taken seriously, and knew he never would writing Westerns, but Historical Fiction, ah, that was legit.

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