Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Thirty-Three - Great Expectations - Part Two

We Britons had at that time particularly settled that it was treasonable to doubt our having and our being the best of everything: otherwise, while I was scared by the immensity of London, I think I might have had some faint doubts whether it was not rather ugly, crooked, narrow, and dirty.
Oh Chuck, you're so wonderful.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Thirty-Three - Great Expectations - Part One

Me: Oh Mr Dickens, it is so lovely to read you again.

Dickens: Thank you, madam. I take it we have previously met?

Me: Yes, sir, several times. And listening to you tell a new story is like sitting down with an old friend - we haven't seen each other in a while yet it is like no time has passed.

Dickens: I am glad to hear it. Pray, madam, remind me when first we met.

Me: Um, let's not really count the first time, okay? It was A Tale of Two Cities and, well, um, I wasn't exactly interested in getting to know you better after that one.

Dickens: I see.

Me: Actually, that was the second of your works I read. The first was A Christmas Carol, but since nearly everyone in the free world has read it or seen one of the many adaptations or at the very least heard of it, I don't count that one.

Dickens: I never count that one, either.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book Thirty-Two - Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Part Two

Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

This book, ostensibly a humorous look at Armageddon, asks profound questions. For example, how many nipples do you have? (This question is provided merely to illustrate a point. I neither expect nor desire an answer.) The cast of characters is massive and I had a bit of trouble keeping up with everyone, but the authors do a good job of providing their characters with enough personality that I usually recognized them from previous chapters. There are so many cute little jokes woven into the prophecies of Agnes. She’s not a part of the action yet much of it centers on her.

Essentially, this is a book about people – human beings and the things we do, the effects we have on other people and on everything with which we come into contact. Yet it’s not depressing but incisive. This is thanks to the strength of the storytelling, and my admiration for Mr. Pratchett and Mr. Gaiman (which was already great) has grown.
It has been said that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism.
I am afraid this is true, seriously afraid. I heard again today about the financial troubles of the EU. I know that my state – and every state – is broke and that our government – and every country’s government, pretty much – is broke. The whole thing could fall apart. Would we become barbarians after missing only two meals? I am afraid this is a real possibility. I hope this is all media and political hype but I fear that it is not.

The perceptiveness of a particular speech toward the end of the story regarding the powers of heaven and hell is sublime. It asks questions but not at all in an heretical way; the speaker is simply trying to make sense of things. When we take things apart to their essential elements they look much different, don’t they?

At one point in my reading I was reminded of an incident regarding a raccoon. I used to work at a place surrounded by woods, and one morning a raccoon wandered out of the woods and made a beeline for a building with at least 40 people standing outside of it. One person, immediately knowing that this is hardly typical behavior for a raccoon, simply shooed the raccoon back into the woods. Later he told us he suspected the raccoon had distemper and I asked why he sent it back into the woods to infect the other animals. He looked at me and said, “You don’t mess with nature.” I immediately knew he was right. How many stories are there of mankind trying to solve one problem and creating others in the process? We do not know nor do we understand all of the workings of nature and when we think we are solving a problem we inadvertently create an imbalance. Even people who spend their entire lives studying ecosystems admit they do not understand their inner workings. Yet we rush around pretending we are in control of the planet – how well does that work for us?

There are also humorous little notes* throughout the book. Most of them are cute but after a bit they become distracting.*

*like this one
*even though they are funny

One word used repeatedly is “ineffable.” Definition:
1. too great or extreme to be expressed in words.
2. too sacred to be uttered.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the word of the day.

Suggestions as to my next book? I still have 38 books (listed on the Progress page) and all I know is that Winnie The Pooh will be last.