Time to get the reading thread going again:
I read Racing to the Finish, in which Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks about his many concussions, hiding his symptoms for years, getting back into racing shape, and eventually deciding to retire. Junior has always come across a stand up guy, and it’s interesting to read him discussing his physical and mental symptoms, and weighing how his decisions would affect his team, sponsors, and businesses.
I’m currently into City of Flaming Shadows, the fourth novel in The Spider pulp series. The Spider stories tend to get wilder and more over the top as they go on. This is only the fourth instalment, and The Spider is dealing with a gang that can cut power to entire towns and city districts and burn their way into the National Treasury vaults. It’s also one of the most violent of the old pulps. By chapter 6 there’s already been several shootings, a hanging, and two fatal car crashes. Good stuff.
I’m turning 42 this year, which seemed a good reason to plan a reread of the HHGttG and Dirk Gently books. I got jumpy, started the Guide series, and am already at book 4. There’s a long way to 6th June, so I’m breaking it up with other stuff. Started Ficciones by Borges. First story, and talk about impressions. The sort of thing that makes me wonder how I haven’t encountered it already.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
This is where the pics in Pics came from.
The authors travelled around Norway mid-19th C to aggregate as many Norwegian folk tales as they could. At the time, NO was under the yoke of DK and was not only financially poor but culturally poor. Interestingly this hugely successful book, ultimately translated and republished during an era of illustrated gift books, was a significant factor in establishing the two forms of Norwegian.
The illustrations by Dane Kay Nielsen in 1914 are mild bogglingly awesome.
Had someone told me two decades ago that I would read and even enjoy a Brit writing about his endless collection of ties I might have fallen into laughing fits.
But oh well, here I am reading this:
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I’ll resume my HHGttG reread today, but I’ve read a few stories by Borges and Kafka in the meantime, both of whom seem like I should have read them long ago. The sort of stuff that begs for contemplation and rereads, and I am very much enamored of what I’ve read this far.
I need to try Kafka again. I read some when I was younger but it didn’t register well with me at the time.
I was so sure I had mentioned Kafka here some time ago. I re-read Metamorphosis a couple, few years ago and was surprised how pedestrian it was. The friend who insisted I read it was a little disheartened when I reported back and suggested I read The Trial, which I never did him the honour of doing. I guess I better.
Borges never disappoints though. Labyrinths was a transformative book for me.
Atm, reading The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. The jury’s still out. He seems a competent writer and the first act is very touching ; but the title is so generic it seems like it should be a flag, and the story and approach seem to lift directly from Neil Gaiman.
The actual writing is very spare/plain, though I’ve only read the first two stories so far, which as concepts/narrative lines/themes go I find very interesting and thought provoking. I grabbed the anthology because I have an in progress playthrough of Metamorphosis, and it made me think I probably should have read at least some by now but haven’t.
Borges’ writing is wild, as it feels like a non fiction approach to fantasy. Again, I’m only two stories into Ficciones, so this is still very much first impressions.
All told, a positive experience for me in both books, even with underwhelming prose.
Edit to add: I just read 1 story each, Up In The Gallery by Kafka and the Circular Ruins by Borges. Borges was predictably excellent, factually surreal. This was my favorite Kafka piece so far, because it defied mechanical convention in insofar as each paragraph was a sentence unto itself and I dig on such grammatical defiance.
Interesting topic and (so far) a very informative set of examples. There’s a bunch of topics in there that come up repeatedly, but Tim Harford is pretty good at showing how to not leap to the wrong conclusions.