FF: Seem To Be

Mei-Ling Often Sees Duppies

This week, I seem to be slipping back into non-fiction territory.  Even my fiction choice is historical. Folklore, for me, always walks a line, because it’s a different reality.

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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Recently Completed:

Kojiki translated and extensively annotated by Donald L. Philippi.  The title means “Record of Ancient Things” and the text was completed in 712.  A mixture of mythology, folklore, history, and legend­­—with a healthy dose of genealogy—this was created for political reasons, to explain the descent of the Yamato, but also from a desire to preserve older traditions.  I’m really happy to have the extensive footnotes and appendixes, all of which are well-written. 

Duppy Talk: West Indian Tales of Mystery and Magic by Gerald Hausman.  Jamaican folklore.  Great notes from the storyteller provide cultural context, and a sense of a magical realist world view.

In Progress:

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Moving into the end of the Italian Renaissance.  A balanced look at how many of the wonders (both of art and of thought) we remember were purchased in a fashion that led to the fall.  Some of Durant’s terminology is dated (he genders qualities as “male” and “female” for example), but if you can get around that, there’s a lot to enjoy.

Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser.  Victorian imperialism told from the point of view of an anti-hero.  Not PC.  Great prose, and liberally footnoted both in text and with appendices.  I enjoy Flashman, but he’s not to everyone’s taste.

Also:

Still reading Archeology, but will probably switch over to Vogue for a different world view.

15 Responses to “FF: Seem To Be”

  1. Beverly Martin Says:

    This week, I read Agent of Change (Liaden Universe #9) by Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. I wasn’t familiar with this series until I read about it in this blog. Chronologically, this is the first book so that is why I started here. It was lots of fun with well developed characters and lots of action. I am looking forward to more adventures.

    I also read a book I won in a Goodreads Giveaway. Messianic Reveal by Ethan T. Burroughs is a thriller set in the Middle East. The author has a lot of knowledge about the culture, politics and religions in this area and he liberally shared that information. Unfortunately, the characters didn’t click with me. The only ones who seemed real to me was a group of Green Berets.

    There is going to be a sequel, but I don’t know if I care enough to read it.

  2. James Mendur Says:

    Didn’t get a lot of reading done in the last week. (Silly me, I forgot to pack a book or two in my overnight bag when I was potentially being admitted to the hospital. I spent 5 days with nothing to read but my phone … and I can’t read fiction on my phone.)

    Since my last update, I finished “Calculated RIsks” by Seanan McGuire (book 10 of the InCryptid series). I wasn’t as fond of this book (or book 9) because the POV character isn’t human. She was raised with human values, but she’s not human. Also, “power-creep” is starting to seep in – that way characters become a little bit more powerful every story, until they’re no longer really human but closer to demigods. (Think Superman, who originally could leap tall buildings but now can fly, used to be faster than a speeding bullet but now has races with The Flash, and so on.) I’ll still read the next one … but I’m on the bubble with this series.

    Currently reading “Dead Things” by Stephen Blackmoore. Lots of books SAY they’re “noir, but with magic”. This is the first one to claim it which I think actually feels noir, and does the noir aspect well. I’m not sure how I feel about the main character, yet. In some noir, the protagonist is a good man, tarnished perhaps, but trying. In others, he’s just as bad as the rest, with perhaps a core of honor to separate him from the bad guys. I prefer the former. So far, this book seems to favor the latter, but I’ll have to finish it to be sure.

    • janelindskold Says:

      Are you okay? I hope so. Keeping good thoughts for you.

      • James Mendur Says:

        Betrayed by my immune system.
        Chagrined that in the year of the COVID pandemic, I got a stupid bacterial infection in my leg.
        Annoyed at myself for letting it go too long.
        But I’m okay. They finally found the right antibiotics to fix this and I’m back at home with my books.

        Y’ever notice how the heroes in books never seem to have to deal with annoyances like this? The P.I. never has to stay in hospital for a few days because of an infection before they can continue the case, fretting while the case is getting cold. The spy only shows up in hospital so they can overhear something they’re not supposed to, or see something they’re not supposed to see. I wonder if there’s a good way to do that in fiction where the illness is just “crap that happens” rather than plot-specific.

      • Louis Robinson Says:

        James,

        If you want some books where the heroes do spend their time dealing with annoyances like that – and much worse – you might want to hunt down James White’s Sector General books. Of course, you could say that that’s cheating, since said heroes are primarily the staff. But do wind up as patients from time to time.

        Something else that runs in the same vein is Alan Nourse’s Bladerunner. Which, I assure you, has nothing whatsoever to do with electric sheep, or dreams, or anything at all Dickish. Although, come to think of it, in the current context it’s actually decidedly scary.

      • janelindskold Says:

        Oh, dear! I do try to slip in occasional “mundane” issues into my books, but it’s amazing how both editors and readers get on the author’s case for being “SLOW.” Sigh.

  3. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    I love folklore and creation stories from other cultures.
    Looking forward to April 5th when full time, on campus, school resumes. I’m hoping to spend full days just reading again!

    • janelindskold Says:

      Duppy Talk is very short. Gerry lived in Jamaica and, although Anglo, has Jamaican family by marriage. He loves and appreciates the culture, and it comes through here.

  4. Harried Harry Says:

    Sounds like most of you are doing well, except for James who let things go too long ( I hope you learned your lessons a. Don’t let infections go to long and b. always have a couple of books ready to go with you or have an ereader plus charger ready to pack loaded with books.) KBG: I’m happy to hear the school will be allowing you to return to your pleasures of reading and the school will take the kids back.

    I haven’t done much reading lately. One series is Frey available at B&N as an e-book. Interesting take on elves & majic (sic).

    James, one series which has the protagonist stuck in hospital beds is the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. Decent sci-fi with some very good plots and character development. A good starting place is Basilisk Station. Try it, you might like it.

    Enjoy yourselves this weekend. I’m doing Projects again. My dogs tore out the dog door so I need to completely replace it. The birds have been coming into the sunroom through the door, which drives my wife crazy. This in turn means I have to go chase the birds outside. At least none are grackles or pigeons! The wind will be blowing for the next seven days, with some days up to the mid 50’s.

    Enjoy your reading!

    • janelindskold Says:

      Good luck with the mending…

      You also reminded me, there’s an excellent Robert Parker, Spenser novel that is built around Spenser recovering from being shot. Agatha Christie has a short story where Miss Marple is sick in bed. And there’s Josephine Tey’s famous novel. Hmm… This could be a WW!

  5. Alan Robson Says:

    I’m glad you like the Flashman books. I really love them. Have you read “Tom Brown’s Schooldays”? It was pretty much required reading when I was younger, though I suspect it’s fallen out of favour these days. It’s not an easy read, very old fashioned and ponderous. One of the amusing aspects of the early Flashman novels is when he mentions in an aside the fates of the boys he used to bully at school. Brown himself, young East… Not important in itself, of course, but great fun if you spot the reference.


    -Alan

    • janelindskold Says:

      I haven’t read Tom Brown, but I was familiar with the connection. I use it to try and explain over and over that Flashy is NOT a hero, but a bully, coward, etc. and that the author meant the link to show he wasn’t advocating such behavior. But readers will persist in equating “protagonist” and “hero.” And Flashy does have the virtue of recognizing heroism in others, even if he thinks it idiotic at times.

      • janelindskold Says:

        Oh, and it helps that Flashy is a likable rogue. He can be surprisingly kind, and appreciates a wider variety of people than his average contemporary.

      • Alan Robson Says:

        Quite right. He’s not a hero in any conventional sense, but neither is he as dark and dangerous as Thomas Hughes paints him. He’s a bully and a coward, always looking out for number one. But as you rightly say, he has his redeeming qualities.


        -Alan

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