Showing posts from June, 2016

UK Trip IV: Southwark and the London Museum

Whoa, that was unexpected.  I, really pretty uninformed person that I am, thought that the Remain vote would squeak in.  And since I'm not terribly knowledgeable about any of it, I don't feel like I can have a super-articulate opinion about it either, so all I can say is that I'm surprised. Well, I want to put up at least one travel post per day, plus I have actual books to tell you about, but I've been working all week, which is unusual for me in summer.  We're doing a big weeding project, which is very much long overdue; my library has actually never had a real, proper, systematic weed in the 40+ years of its existence!  At least, not that any of us can figure out.  I've been knee-deep in literary criticism from the 60s all week, and have miles of shelves to go before I sleep.  It's been fun finding hidden gems (or, more often, inexplicable weirdo books such as Cher's Forever Fit or, I kid you not, a 60s manual on containing radiation).  Anyway, on

UK Trip III: St. Paul's and the British Museum

It was around this time that we realized we were stuffing too much into our days, but that didn't really stop us.  Two major things a day were still not enough to do all we wanted.  I'm a bit short on photos for this post, because you can't take pictures inside St. Paul's, and the light is kind of dim in the British Museum, so I don't have much.  I've supplemented a bit with downloaded images. On this day we started at St. Paul's Cathedral, the spacious and mathematically-pleasing baroque church that Christopher Wren built after the Great Fire of 1666.  What a different atmosphere it made!  For one thing, the main part of the cathedral has relatively few memorials compared to a place like Westminster, though Wellington's memorial is gigantic enough to make up for that.  We wandered around looking, and for once listening to the audio guides (every tourist destination in the UK now seems to have free audio guides, not maps.  The maps cost money.  We most

UK trip II: Westminster and Whitehall

Day two:  This was the coldest day!  For a good part of our trip, the weather was cool and a bit showery, and I was more than okay with that (my hometown was having 95+ degree days, and I was thrilled to be missing them, as I happily told every Brit that tried to apologize to me for the weather).  This day was really cold and windy, though, and even I got a bit chilled.  We spent the day in the Whitehall neighborhood, mostly; first we took the tube to Embankment station so that we could walk by Charing Cross (which is a Victorian re-enactment of a medieval memorial to Edward I's wife Eleanor) and Lord Nelson up on his column before going to Westminster.  Walking down Whitehall, I was overwhelmed by buildings, statues, and massive monuments to the glories of Empire.  It's actually a bit disconcerting; it's so at odds with how we think today that is actually a bit surprising to come upon statues of, say, Clive of India. Westminster Abbey is also overwhelming

UK Trip: From the Start: Tower of London and British Library

Tardis! Hey everybody, we're back!  My mom and I took my two daughters on a two-week trip to the UK.  You see, my oldest daughter is nearly 16 and pretty soon, she'll be out on her own.  We weren't very able to take the kids on trips when they were younger, so my husband and I thought we'd better do something before it was too late.  Next thing you know, we'd planned the trip of a lifetime (and husband, who couldn't go because he'd just started a new job, was very supportive of the rest of us having fun without him).  I'm going to blog about the trip, and I guess I'll just get started and see what shape it all takes on. Once we'd gotten the traveling part out of the way, we settled into a little hotel in the Earl's Court neighborhood, happily close to the Tube station and some convenient grocery stores.  We explored a little bit, but couldn't do much, so that's Day 0. Where London Stone is not  On our first proper day,

More Company Novels!

The Life of the World to Come, by Kage Baker The Children of the Company The Machine's Child Gods and Pawns The Sons of Heaven Phew, I have read a whole lot of Company novels!  I'm a little tired, so I think I won't read the last two I have --The Empress of Mars and Not Less Than Gods --for a little while.  Still not very good covers. The only problem with talking about these books is that the plot gets so complex and out-there that it becomes hard to describe to anyone who hasn't already read some of them.  I'll just do my best here... The Life of the World to Come : the life story of Alec Checkerfield, Seventh Earl of Finsbury, ridiculously wealthy 24th-century playboy.  But Alec is an unusual little boy, with some odd talents, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Mendoza's two former loves... The Children of the Company : meet Executive Facilitator Labienus, one of the most powerful immortals in Dr. Zeus.  Over the centuries, he has put toge


My copy Neverwhere , by Neil Gaiman As long as I'm going to London, I need to brush up on my London geography, right?  Well, how about my fictional London Below geography?  It's a long time since I read Neverwhere. Richard Mayhew is your average British schlub guy, much like Arthur Dent, but the thing about Richard is that he is kind.  When he trips over an injured girl while on his way to a socially important occasion with his fiancĂ©e, he chooses to help the girl--and soon finds that his ordinary life has evaporated.  He's now an unwilling, bewildered denizen of London Below, where all the forgotten things fall and monsters lurk in the dark. This was Neil Gaiman's first novel, and it didn't start off as a novel at all.  First, it was a BBC mini-series on TV, and aired in 1996.  I've seen it, but it's been a very long time, and now I want to watch it again.  Gaiman then turned it into a novel, which has been through a few different incarnations too

Classics Spin #13!

You know I haven't missed a Spin yet, and it's time for lucky Spin #13.  Being nowhere near my computer and having only a tablet to compose upon shouldn't be a problem, right?  Well, we shall see....  William Faulkner, Light in August. “Our Town,” Thornton Wilder  On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin Lao Tzu, China, The Tao Te Ching Berthold Brecht, Germany, The Threepenny Opera Thomas Mann, Germany, The Magic Mountain. The Conference of the Birds  Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks Pope St. Gregory I, Pastoral Care  Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum Feodor Dostoevsky, Russia, The Possessed Kalidasa, The Loom of Time. Pensees, Pascal John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding “Why We Can’t Wait,” Martin Luther King Jr.  Cesar Vallejo, Poemas Humanos.  William Faulkner, Light in August. Origin of Species Our Town The Magic Mountain I'm running out of titles, and I was kind of thinking of reworking my Latin American section, so I've

Before We Visit the Goddess

Before We Visit the Goddess, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni As a long-time fan of Divakaruni, I have been excited about this new book for a while.  And it lived up to everything I could hope for; it's a lovely novel.  But it's not really quite a novel, actually--Divakaruni wanted to offer different perspectives, and it's written as nine short stories spanning nearly sixty years, each from a different person's point of view.  It's a technical feat that acts as a prism, showing us shades and nuances we could never see otherwise--and also shows the author's impressive power.  She's better than she's ever been, so I hope there will be many more books. The focus is three generations of women: Sabitri, a Bengali sweet-maker, her daughter Bela, who elopes to the United States, and Bela's daughter Tara, who is having a difficult time figuring out her life--as they all do.  Each of them make choices that bring far-reaching consequences, and often they'