1. AOTW: No one. Let's be generous. It's Christmas Day.
2. We've started watching (streaming on Acorn TV) an Australian detective series--The Brokenwood Mysteries (we've seen only 2 1/2 episodes so far--several years of episodes lie ahead of us). At first, we thought it was going to be a Down Under version of Midsomer Murders (the long-running mediocre detective series from England--all gajillion episodes of which we have, of course, streamed, complaining all the while). And there are some similarities. But the acting is better; there is some humor (!!!), some self-deprecation, some awareness by the writers that this should be fun, as well. So ... we're gonna keep going with it. (Link to some video.) We're also having fun (sort of) wrestling with the Australian accent: Sometimes the meaning of entire conversations eludes me! But I'm ... catching on (I guess).
3. I finished a couple of books this week, and the first involves some personal embarrassment.
- A couple of years ago I reviewed (for the Cleveland Plain Dealer) a new novel by Siri Hustvedt, a writer of both fiction and non- , a writer I admire very much. The novel is The Blazing World (Simon & Schuster, 2014). (Link to my review.)
A week or so ago I was reading some other book that alluded to The Blazing World--but not to Hustvedt's book but to a work by Margaret Cavendish from 1666. Uh oh. I just this moment re-read my review and saw that I did mention Cavendish's work in my review--but not because I knew it--not because I'd read it. I was going on what Hustvedt herself had said in her own novel.
I said "Uh oh" a second ago, and this is a feeling I've had more than once after a review of mine has appeared--a realization that I'd missed something. Sometimes I realized it, alone, late at night, sometimes in someone else's review (I never read other people's reviews before mine is done and filed), sometimes--as in this case--when I've read something else.
So ... I hopped on Amazon, ordered a copy of Cavendish's (short) book, and read it last week--and wished to High Heaven that I'd done so earlier--like, uh, before I wrote the review of Hustvedt's book. Oh, I was full of praise for Hustvedt's work--but I missed something key. And that is not a pleasant feeling.
Cavendish's book is not easy to read. It's dense, not just in text but in presentation. Pages go by without paragraph breaks. But it's an astonishing work that in ways predicts the concept from contemporary physics about multiple universes. There are, learns our protagonist, "more numerous worlds than the stars" (104).
At the beginning of the novel a young woman is kidnapped and taken to ... the North Pole, where she escapes when the others freeze to death. She ends up in ... another place. Where she meets and marries the Emperor and where she commences her education in these other worlds--and in their inhabitants.
And, slyly, Cavendish inserts herself in the story: The Empress calls on her for help now and then.
Well, there is much, much more to this book, and I'll not carry on about it. Still in print. Still easily available and reasonably priced. But ... patience is a virtue in the reading of her book.
- I also finished Richard Ford's 1990 novel, Wildlife, the fifth book by Ford (I'm reading them all--in order). And this one, too, is something special. The narrator, Joe, is telling us about a period of his life (1960) when he was sixteen in Great Falls, Montana, where he, his dad, and mom are living--and not fitting in. Dad is an itinerant golf pro working at the local club; Mom is a bookkeeper, substitute teacher--whatever's needed. And Joe? A young man who has no friends in town (they've just moved there), a young man who displays in his tale an astonishing lack of affect. He doesn't seem to feel too much--he observes, goes along.
His parents' marriage is falling apart. Dad loses his job and heads off to fight a raging local forest fire; Mom almost immediately hooks up with another guy; Joe watches, records. A fire is an appropriate image--for flames, metaphorical and actual--are dancing across these pages--and in the lives of these folks. And there's a fiery conclusion.
A bit earlier we have a typical Ford moment. Dad is back from the fire-fighting; he has learned his wife is cheating ...
"I don't know what makes life hold together at all," he said. He did not seem as mad now, only very unhappy. I felt sorry for him.
"I know," my mother said. "I don't either. I'm sorry." (141)
Ford--like so many recent writers I admire--has the gift of being able to float through time, back and forth, and never lose his readers. And getting right to the fiery heart of all in just the fewest, most wrenching words.
4. Last Words: From my various online word-of-the-day providers.
- from Wordsmith.org
dubiety (doo-BY-i-tee, dyoo-)
noun: Doubtfulness or uncertainty.
ETYMOLOGY: If you’re experiencing dubiety, you are of two minds, etymologically speaking. From Latin dubius (wavering), from duo (two). Ultimately from the Indo-European root dwo- (two) that also gave us dual, double, doubt, diploma (literally, folded in two), twin, between, redoubtable, and didymous. Earliest documented use: 1750. Remove the initial letter and you get ubiety.
USAGE: “For starters, individuals can exercise healthy dubiety, especially when an opportunity sounds too good to be true (spoiler: it probably is). “Trust but Verify”; Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah); Oct 31, 2016.
- from the Oxford English Dictionary
The action or an act of destroying or undermining the authority of the law; (also) the act of defeating or preventing the passage of a particular piece of legislation.
Origin:A borrowing from Latin, combined with an English element. Etymons: Latin lēgi-, lēx, -cide comb. form2.
Etymology: < classical Latin lēgi-, alternative stem of lēx law (see legal adj.) + -cide comb. form2, originally after regicide n.2
Chiefly N. Amer. in later use.
1641 Answere to Earle of Straffords Oration 3 A very easie honesty and common morality might have..warn'd him from this plague of Legicide.
1839 Judicial Decisions on Writ of Habeas Corpus 10 If rebellion has killed the law in another part of the province, it cannot be charged with the legicide in the District of Three-Rivers.
1875 A. G. Riddle Alice Brand xlii. 271 They were driven to that unallowable legicide of impeaching some of their own witnesses.
1902 Atlanta (Georgia) Constit. 19 Nov., The head of the appropriations committee..can well afford to plead ‘justifiable legicide’.
1935 El Paso (Texas) Herald-Post 23 Dec. 4/1 These acts of the lower courts come pretty near being what Prof. Thomas Reed Powell of Harvard law school calls ‘judicial legicide’.
1978 Titusville (Pa.) Herald 5 Oct. 4/4 He..accused the bill's opponents of attempting legicide on the measure.
2002 L. Gaston in T. Linafelt Shadow of Glory x. 128 There could eventually be a connection between legicide and genocide.