wall-thumpers and nanos (both kinds)

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Friday, September 23, 2005
Wall thumpers: I think I got this phrase from either/both the Smart Bitches, or the Jennifer Crusie forum - basically, a book that for whatever reason makes you throw it against the wall. This week's nomination:

The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey - which promised on the front to be "Witty .... a perfectly realized murder mystery," and on the back the NYTBR promised me that it was a "bravura performance...slyly paced, marbled with surprise...". Sounds good, right? These blurbs piqued my interest since I used to read mysteries all the time, but have become less and less inclined to care about the procedural aspects (maybe because there are so many cop shows on TV?), and more interested in really great characters. I have found fewer of these than I would like - but I know I'll never find them if I don't start looking around. Anyway - this was moving along kind of slow, but I really wanted to give it a shot. It had a Jane Austen slant that I thought could be interesting so I was forgiving of huge expositional information dumps which generally bug the hell out of me - (the history of forensic medicine in Britain is somehwere in the first 50 pages). Besides, why would the NYTBR lie to me? The author inserted several chapters of first person "here's my side of the story" narration from the victim's husband into the rest, which is third person from the POV of the detective. Fine. It can work, but is tricky - at least in this reader's experience. HOWEVER, you lose me when you have this guy who is supposed to be rescuing a boy from drowning in the river - he is standing in the MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMNED RIVER, mind you - and the conversation goes like this:

I shouted at them, 'Can you see him?'
'He keeps going under,' one called out in an accent redolent of Latin primers and striped schoolcaps.

Redolent?!?! Those are his thoughts in the middle of a rescue? My eyes rolled so hard they fell out of my head and rolled all around the room which was redolent of steamed brains as wisps of white smoke escaped my ears. (hey, maybe that's how I scratched my eye.) I'm 98 pages into it and I just don't think I can make myself go any further, unless someone can tell me that it gets a lot better. Enh. I know I am probably overreacting, but it seems like as good a reason as any to abandon this one. I will be narrowing my eyes at the NYTBR for a while.

I also had to stop reading From Hell by Alan Moore - it was due back at the library and I couldn't renew - but had all I could take for now about Masonic mysticism and Jack the Ripper gory murders. It is b/w line art (no color), but even so - really gruesome. It was good - I just couldn't take it all in one dose. I'll probably check it out again and finish it later. Someday.

Nanos - first the hard one - NaNoWriMo. I can't decide if I will participate this year or not. The first year it was really a test to see if I could do it. And I did! The second year I already knew that it was at least physically possible for me to do it, and I completed it, but when it was over I still hadn't finished re-writing my first story, and now a year later I haven't even opened the file on the second one. The thing I love about nano is that I am doing this insane thing with thousands of other people at the same time - there is a sense of camaraderie in what is generally a pretty solitary pursuit. PLUS, they have a little thing where you can input how many words you've done and make a little graph, although you can now get those without nano. I could take my first year's project and work on it really hard during the month of November and try to finish, but that's not what nano is really about - it's about making something new just because you can. I go back and forth. The deadline is what I need to kick my ass into gear - why can't I be one of those people who accomplishes things effortlessly instead of having to browbeat myself into it? whine, whine, whine. Blergh.

But then there is the easy nano: how cute is the new iPod Nano ? SO CUTE! But my essential thriftiness tells me that for 50 dollars more I could have one that had 20GB of HD space instead of 4. It's not like the full-sized iPod is this heavy, brick-like burden. However, if space was really at a premium (it is so tiny!), and I wasn't sure that I would burn through 4GB in no time at all, or if I had to have it in black I would jump on it. According to this stress test, I could jump on it a lot, maybe even from a trampoline and do no harm. It isn't often that something combines function and beauty so well. I received my iPod 3 years ago for my birthday, and it has brought me joy almost every single day.
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