Apr. 17th, 2013

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This week, I finished The Long Price Quartet, by Daniel Abraham. I'm not sure, but I think I was completely finished with Betrayal in Winter before this week, and only read An Autumn War and The Price of Spring this week (immediately going back to reread the beginning of A Shadow in Summer, for the sake of arguing with it, as one does.) The series does so many things right. I like how it shows characters actually maturing--not just growing out of childhood, or even out of fumbling young-adulthood, but through many stages of adulthood. I like how seriously it takes genocide, and how vengeance/forgiveness/moving on are all shown as so very difficult. I hope I'm mistaken in reading a pro-bullying message into the end.

I am also reading Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, which is just stunningly good. The fairy-tale parts are right. And the other parts are right, with parents who mean well and Just Don't Get It. Like making good choices now that you're in 6th grade doesn't mean going off to rescue your best friend from a snow witch. (Really, the responsible choice in that situation is to stop and put boots on, not to just sit there and do homework.)

On audiobook, I'm listening to Lower Corte, by Guy Gavriel Kay. I read it a long time ago, and I'm not sure if I'm perceiving it differently because my feminist standards have changed or because I notice different things at the pace of an audiobook.

On Friday, Sovay was coughing pathetically and expressing unhappiness about the need to go out into the dismal cold rain and deal with tax paperwork. As soon as she was out the door, I went looking for that book by Nevil Shute where the NHS is obviously the villain because England has such bad weather. (As compared to a fundamentally decent place like Australia, where the sun shines all the time, there's lots of poor immigrants providing free labor, there's plenty to eat with no rationing, and nobody who matters has to worry about taxes.) I looked at several, and it's remarkable how Shute draws me in, considering I don't actually like his characters very much.

I realized The Breaking Wave (also known as Requiem for a Wren was not the book I was looking for, about halfway through. (Though it's largely about how Australia is so much better than England, and is set shortly after WW2.) That's the one about the disabled pilot who goes looking for his brother's fiancee, after the brother was killed near D-Day. It's about people who take it for granted that a respectable person simply does not confide in those they love. Such people really annoy me, in fiction as in real life. But what bothered me more was the idea of war as a positive experience for young people. Not: unpleasant necessity. Not even: we remember it fondly because we were young and together, even though it was horrible. Rather: it was so exciting anybody who experienced it once will want more of it.

I have a shelf full of Shute (--now on a shelf, rather than in a box! I finally decided we are staying in this apartment, with all its flaws, and started nesting in earnest.) I went on to read The Far Country (I don't know the other title.) I'm less than halfway through, but the NHS has already been established as a great evil. So has the UK generally, because rain and cold and food shortages and equality. How dare a country tax the rich to provide health care! The little old ladies starving to death because they're too proud to accept charity from the government. (Accepting money from the government because of what one's husband did decades ago occupying India is respectable. Accepting money from the government because the government is offering to help just anybody is NOT.) It would all be very much funnier if the NHS and the underlying idea that it's good for poor people to get medical care and enough to eat were not under active attack.

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