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yah, I will go riding.

'm just waiting till the temp tops 15F, because that is just my own stupid mental limit to exactly how cold it can be and I still have to get to ride. It was 0F (-17C) early this morning, and it is still cooooold.

I finished a strange little book yesterday. It was like the person had read all the stable intrigue/horse show/girl&pony stories, and reproduced them all together in one lumpy book, without actually understanding how any of it works: how to keep a horse sound, what judges look for in a hunter class or an equitation class, how to train a horse to jump, what a jumping class looks like, the work that actually happens when a horse is shod or worked, or put away. I found it very frustrating, and kind of funny.

On the other hand, Monica Dickens has a perfect grip on what it takes to keep horses. I have House at Land's End which I've read repeatedly and love, and Follyfoot which I haven't read, and looks like it was part of a series, even perhaps part of a series that the BBC made a kid's TV show out of. I started Follyfoot and it made me laugh twice in the first chapter, from the correctness of the descriptions of the people and the horses. She is the author of one of the other adult riding books, called Talking of Horses. I recommend it highly, just for the happy descriptions of rides she has taken and horses she has loved.

The last adult book is an extremely hard to find object called A Breed of Horses. Moyra Williams, the woman who wrote it, found a two year old she liked the looks of, bought her, and then bred her and took amazing notes on the growing up and training of the resulting horses. She even has a giant table in the back of characteristics of the different offspring at key points in their careers. There are used copies around, which is good, because for years it was unfindable, and well worth the read. While she looks at breeding and training, she is also trying to tease apart some feeling for inherited and taught traits in horses. I like the tone of the writing as much as anything she says, and there are some descriptions of horses' responses to things (pasture mates, new experiences, object) that crack me up.
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Well, the little one is better and no one else is puking, yet.

I have been rereading Sayers' Peter and Harriet books, just skipping the non-Harriet narratives, and this time I could see some of the apparatus at work. I 've read all of them often enough that I know the details of the mystery, and really I am just reading it for the piffle and the characters. I am starting to understand fanfic, because if anyone was writing decent Vane/Wimsey fanfic I'd read it and even buy it in a heartbeat because there simply are not enough of them.

The unexpected reading for me this time was Busman's Honeymoon. I could see which pieces were part of a play, and which had been layered on to lend versimilitude. There were some sections that were extremely staged, or that felt like stage directions translated into descriptive prose. I hadn't seen them so clearly before, and it startled me. I still love best the letters and journal entries that go before the wedding. All the different points of view that go into our seeing the wedding make me so Happy!

Finally I found a copy of Jilll Paton Walsh's Thrones, Dominations which is written from notes Sayers left for a follow-on book. This felt like another place where I could tell the difference between the notes from Sayers and Walsh's interpolations. The book is much more stylized (?) than previous books - there has to be a better word but I can't think of it. The book contrasts two married couples; Peter and Harriet and another couple where the woman was "rescued" from poverty and a working life by a wealthy man. It almost feels like a polemic on the topic of How Marriages Should Work. Clearly Peter and Harriet are Doing It Right because they are happy. Clearly they are happy because they treat eachother as fully human and reasoning, rather than as handy but limited types.(I may have that backwards - they could be happy because they are doing it right) The other couple looks like a fairytale but they are Unhappy, and short pieces of their internal monologues reveal that they are Doing it Wrong. Somehow the failure to let each couple be happy in their own way is what distracts and distresses me the most. If there had been room for different pairs to have mutually mysterious or even unappealing ways of interacting I would have had a much easier time of it. While it was nice to spend time with Harriet and Peter, it is not a very satisfying read for me.

Walsh wrote another Wimsey/Vane book on her own, with fewer notes and even more interpolation and I like it even less. I don't think it is the fault of the author, at least not entirely. I think, after reading all the Lord Peter short stories this afternoon followed by an essay by Carolyn Heilbrun (who wrote the Amanda Cross mysteries) that Sayers lost interest in Peter, and I'm not sure anyone else can animate him. I feel the same way about Kermit - without Henson, it is merely a Kermit impersonator, sometimes getting it right, more often getting it wrong just slightly off. Which leads me to think that fanfic probably wouldn't work after all. Which is a gigantic bummer, but at lelast I have these books I can revisit when the going gets dark.

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A movie I don't remember had a character who described herself as organizationally impaired. I sympathize. I was looking at the calendar as my good mother tried to convince me to come and spend days visiting her with the girls and Al and she'd put us up in a hotel and it HAD TO HAPPEN BEFORE Christmas, and it so isn't. Every day of the remaining weekends is full. Aside from the fact that Al's head would explode and the kids would collapse from exasperation. It isn't going to work. It has taken three phone calls so far to attempt to establish this. I am sure I am facing several more.

In other news, I finished the 4th of Dorothy Dunnet's Niccolo books and massive spoiler ensues )

On the other hand, I did not move out of my (comfy) chair except to eat all day. It was lovely to be not required anywhere. It won't happen again soon, but I enjoyed the hell out of it while I was there. And One Dunnett book is roughly 12 hours of reading.

more books

Dec. 1st, 2008 05:54 pm
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I was reading Jo Walton's LJ, and she mentioned a long post on Truepenny's (which I read for the Due South commentary as much as anything) which had a coherent critique of Bujold among others. After some determined rooting about, I found it, and realized in following the long comments that I had a lovely reading list. So I have been working my way down it, revisiting DSayers (Strong Poison) and trying Eleanor Arnason's Ring of Swords and Maureen F. McHugh's China Mountain Zhang.

OK, I just went back and reread the post, which, while awesome, did not mention any of the books I thought I had read about. So now I have to go find the post, somewhere.

I hate losing stuff.

ETA: further digging about found me THIS (Hurrah!) and you should pore over that as well. Genre Conventions. And Why Women's Work Must Be Done. aaaand enough of the Significant Caps, thank you.


Nov. 27th, 2008 07:44 am
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I can't write a book report. I failed it repeatedly in school. I am not terribly good at reviewing books either, which is a bummer because I read a lot, and I read fast and I have strong opinions.

I just finished Jo Walton's King's Peace and King's Name, and I am so glad I read them. I don't think it is spoilery to say they are Arthurian without being too close. I think I can say that I adored the characters, and cried any time any one dies (with two notable exceptions) and her view of many worlds made me extremely happy, and her society is the first that made me think wistfully of living in the past (which I don't normally do because really as a female with health issues there is no better time than now with the possible exception of the future) but only that particular past. The foreword to the second cracked me up. I am deeply grateful to her for writing them, because they show me how it is possible to wrest something different from the usual Arthurian tragedy, and it is something that looks very important.

And on beyond that, a happy Thanksgiving to the Americans among us.
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'K guys. Fess up. I know one of you on my flist is responsible.

Someone, some where, mentioned ebear's Kit and Dunnett's Lymond in the same breath, and I followed up on it like the avid reader I am, and Holy Crap Roman Empire... I have been head down in the end of the reign of Queen Mary in England and the young Mary, Queen of Scots, and swept across the landscape from Scotland to France and down to Malta and Turkey and Stamboul (was Constantinople) for the last week. It is making me short with my family and very unhappy unless I am reading the Lymond chronicles except when I have to stop because another of my favorite characters is dying in a hideous and 16th century fashion.

Whoever it was, thank you, I think. There are some wonderful parts, but most are scary and ugly and nasty brutish and short. But the writing... I am smitten, and kept at arm's length at the same time, a joyful and uncomfortable place to be.

You'll excuse me, I have to go see if they're really dead.



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