AndyHat (andyhat) wrote,

Almost time to make the weekly trip down to Charlotte. I'm not particularly looking forward to the drive tonight, as this is "Race Week" at the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord. That means lots of drunk Nascar fans on the highway as I'm coming into town.

Recent reading:

  • Vladimir Nabokov. Pnin. Included in Novels: 1955-1962. Library of America. 1996.
    • More a series of vignettes than a novel, this describes a series of incidents in the life of Timofey Pavlovich Pnin, an emigré Russian professor teaching at a small college in upstate New York. Chapter one starts off with Pnin on the train. en route to giving a lecture. But of course, he's on the wrong train. In the second chapter, Pnin rents a new room and recalls his rocky relationship with his ex-wife. In the third chapter, Pnin is obsessed with the mystery of who has requested the return of a book which he has borrowed from the library. And so on.

      Of course, the plot, such as it is, is just a framework for digressions on Russian history, the life of Russia's emigrant intellectuals, language, and countless other subjects. It's intended to be a comic novel, and it certainly has its share of amusing moments as it pokes fun at Pnin, college politics, and American culture. An enjoyable read.

  • Nalo Hopkinson. "Shift". In Conjunctions 39. Short Story.
    • A typical Hopkinson story, mixing African mythology and the modern world. In this case, the son of the water goddess has taken on human form, seeking a relationship with a human woman. He is watched over by his sister, a wind goddess while he tries to escape his mother, who can manifest wherever there is water. This story really needed to be longer. Without more background on the relevant mythology, the story was more confusing than entertaining, and didn't really work for me.
  • Chet Williamson. "Sundowners". In Figures in Rain. Short Story.
    • This is the story of Lewis Becholdt, a widower and retired science fiction author now moving into a retirement community. On his first day there, he meets his neighbor Joe, another widower, who invites him to dinner with a group of other residents. But another acquaintance warns Lewis to stay away from the "Sundowners". Eventually he learns their secret in this quietly sentimental tale of love, grief, and faith. I liked it.
  • Neil Gaiman. "Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky". In Scarlet's Walk Tour Book. Short Story.
    • Told in the form of diary entries, this story tells of a woman's quest to find the mysterious woman named Scarlet, a quest which takes her many hundreds of miles by car, by bus, and on foot. Like most short-shorts, there's a twist ending, but this one works better than most. A good story (and very lavishly presented).
  • "From the Cradle", Gene Wolfe. In Shelf Life. Novelette.
    • Four stories for the price of one. The framing story tells of a boy working in a bookstore of the future, which accepts on consignment a leather-bound book from an earlier century. On rare occasions, the boy has the chance to read a story out of the book; they turn out to be fables whose morals won't become clear to the boy until many years later when the book's owner returns to claim it. The original fables are amusing, and the framing story, while a fairly obvious set up, works surprisingly well.
  • Robert Sheckley. "Agamemnon's Run". In DAW 30th Anniversary: Science Fiction.
    • A rather quirky story, in which aliens operate a lottery to choose humans to reenact the major roles in various Greek myths. The humans in the story aren't all that clear about the aliens' motivation, but it involves something about examining whether the moral consequences of the dramas will ever vary. Thus we have Agamemnon, aka Chris Johnson of south Texas, newly returned to Mycenae, attempting to escape the consequences of sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia. It's a fun, humorous story, though I'm sure I'd have enjoyed it even more if I were more familiar with the relevant Greek myths (one of these days, I really do need to get around to reading Homer).
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