Feb. 14th, 2013

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I usually don't have more than 2 or 3 books going simultaneously, but yesterday was a little unusual.

The Towers of Silence, Paul Scott. This is a reread. I like it a lot, but it's going slowly because of both complexity and small print. (Needs two kinds of focused attention plus especially good light and reading glasses.) It's making more sense because I'm rereading the series and because I'm on a lower dose of the stupid pills.

The Porcupine Year, Louise Erdrich. I don't like this as much as The Birchbark House, though I can tell it's very well done.

What's Left of Me, by Kat Zhang. I read this based on a review by http://rachelmanija.livejournal.com/, which did warn that the latter part of the story (focusing on the action-adventure) was weak. She liked the concept of having 2 souls in each body, and the internal narrative by the secondary soul. It made me wonder how the intercision scenes in Golden Compass would look from Pantaleimon's perspective. But the actual narrator in this book bored me.

Amber Wellington, Daredevil, by Linda Glaser. I started paging through this last night, trying to find a particular scene I half-remembered. I ended up reading the whole thing because the scene was not there. Now I can't remember why I've saved it for almost 40 years.

A Betrayal in Winter, Daniel Abraham. I just started this. I know I'm not following all the political complexities connecting it with Shadow in Summer, or even chapter to chapter, but I'm tracking some. And the characters are strong enough that it kinda sorta works episodically.
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The apartment seemed pretty good from the description, so we asked the realtor to show it to us. The location wasn't great, but it was ok--both of us like long walks. The size wasn't great, but it was ok--we could manage with just one couch, and I'm sure we could build shelves all the way to the ceiling. And there was nothing really drastically wrong with it. No impossibly narrow doors. No rotting floorboards. But there was nothing really right about it either. I looked around the place and hoped we could find better.

Sovay drew me aside and murmured, "It's big enough, and the layout isn't horrible, but it smells wrong to me. Not smoke, but..." All right then. Cross that one off the list. She seemed embarrassed about rejecting an apparently-good apartment for such an inexplicable reason, but there's no need to explain "smells wrong" to me. I get it. I'm usually the one waving my hands helplessly and feeling defensive because I can't explain it to other people.

We got back in the realtor's car to drive away from the apartment, and he asked what we thought of the place.
A: "It's very nice, but I think we need to keep looking."
R: "I don't think you're going to find anything bigger in your price range. Not that close to the T."
S: "The size is fine. Really. We just don't think it's quite right for us."
R: "Why don't you want it?
Ok. I guess that's part of his job as a salesman. Finding alternatives when we don't like something.

A: "Do you know how sometimes a space feels comfortable, for reasons you can't explain? This just doesn't feel comfortable to us. If you find us another apartment that size, that close to the T, we'd probably like it."
R: "Well, if you don't tell me what's wrong with it, I can't help you."
That put my back up. I hate having to defend my "no."

S: "I'm sure somebody else would love it. Really. It's a great apartment"
R: "If it's such a great apartment, why don't you want it?"
A: "It just didn't smell right to us."
R: "Smell right? That's ridiculous. We'd have it cleaned."
Of course, it's harder to defend my "no" when my arguments don't make sense to anybody. Well, not to anybody except Sovay and Mrissa.

I think that was when we lost patience with one another, and he told us we'd never find an apartment as big and cheap and close to the T as we want, and thus we will need to settle for a smaller place with no room for bookshelves. After we got out of the car, I wondered if I had said something wrong, somehow...if it might have been possible to keep him on our side with the right kind of diplomatic lie or non-response.

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