Friday, May 31, 2024

Some Annotated Reading

I believe I have my link problem resolved. Additionally, I finished reading two books this week.

I read Secret Lives by Mark de Castrique as park of my mission to find good representations of older characters. And I did here. Ethel Crestwater is a legendary former FBI agent who runs a boarding house for agents of both the FBI and the Secret Service. This actually makes sense as presented in the story, because agents move around and sometimes take short-term assignments in the DC area, which is where Ethel's boarding house is. Ethel is not a Miss Marple type, using intuition and wisdom. She's a sharp, well-trained agent, which is a totally different thing, though one who physically is feeling her age a bit. My main complaint with Ethel is her name. I don't think it's appropriate to the era in which she was born. She's seventy-five in the book, which was published in 2022, so say she's just mid-seventies in the the 2020s. I believe that would make her born in the 1950s. That was the era of Nancies and Debbies. Maybe Sharons. The name Ethel goes back a few more decades, at least. But, otherwise, Ethel is an excellent character, and Secret Lives is the first book in a series that could go somewhere.

I know I must have bought the e-book edition of Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta because I loved one of Marchetta's earlier books,  Jellicoe Road. Tell the Truth is one of those books I had on my Kindle, and when I transferred it to the Kindle App on my iPad, it wasn't clear as to whether or not I had read it. I recognized some things at the beginning, but nothing after that. So I kept reading. Now I just checked Goodreads. Evidently I read it in 2018, didn't review it, but gave it a 3 star rating. I can't believe it, because I loved it on this read and will definitely give it a 5. What the heck? This was an involving contemporary English mystery, somewhat on the heartbreaking side. There was French that I could understand. There were a lot of teenagers, and I did find that confusing. That was it, though. I rarely intentionally read a book a second time. Doing so with this one and finding I like it so much more than I appear to have the first time is an interesting experience.  

The Poet Laureate Project

I just remembered this week that I was doing this and read up on Louise Bogan, the fourth poet laureate when they were still called poet consultants. She was also a critic for The New Yorker. I'd love to read some of her work for that publication, but I can't access its archive. I can only read older things when the magazine suggests it. 

I can't say I embraced her poetry, but I did like the last part of To a Dead Lover.  "And I have life--that old reason to wait for what comes, to leave what is over."

Short-form Reading

The  Author Cass Sunstein interview at Salon is fantastic. I'd never heard of him, but he has a book out called How to Become Famous in which he talks about the role of luck. It sounds fascinating. I am not very knowledgeable about Taylor Swift, but Sunstein mentions her song Mean, which I then had to hunt down and liked. A terrific read.

Last week I wrote about reading a book set in Argentina and how that might lead me to make Argentina the South American country I learn about. So far I'm sticking with it. I read I am the King, and I will destroy you at The Guardian. It's about Argentina's president.

Checking for Holes in the Multiversee by Paul Rousseau at Catapult is a short memoir with both a compelling story and an interesting frame. It's told backwards. I've mentioned Rousseau here before.

Humor

A Group of Moms Plan a Girl’s Night on WhatsApp  by Lisa Hides at MuddyUm This is another piece in which the framework is important. I found this funny even though the content was not particularly unique. Moms' nights out have been a thing since at least the '90s. The WhatsApp hermit crab format is what makes this work so well.

Top 10 Tips For Your Summer From a 2-Year-Old by Carter Anderson Lee at Frazzled. The demands! The voice! What a kid.

Revisiting Movie and TV Characters You Thought Were Mean When You Were A Kid by Caroline Horwitz at Jane Austen's Wastebasket I've had thoughts like this, but mostly about female TV characters I thought were old and frumpy when I was young and now they look a whole lot better.


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