Crocodile on the Sandbank – 3/5 Stars
If you haven’t read this book, it’s a little hard to fully understand how to categorize it. It’s very British-feeling, even though it’s written by an American author. It’s very British-loving to be sure. It reads almost like a mystery novel, but it’s not entirely a mystery. Instead, it’s most close to a few of the antecedents mentioned in the book itself. It styles itself after HR Haggard adventure tales, but in a less buxom/masculine kind of way. In a lot of ways, I think this makes it more like Arthur Conan Doyle, specifically of The Man Who Would Be King. It’s got a kind of 1970s feminist revisionist feel to it while trying to emulate Stiff Upper Lip British empire writing, without the actual lamentations of decline permeating it the way so much British writing has. This makes it more in line with Indiana Jones and Connie Willis in my mind. But in plenty of other ways, it’s not entirely unlike Patrick O’Brien.
So, all of that is to say, that this is about Amelia Peabody, recently bequeathed with her Egyptologist father’s fortune making her way to Egypt on a tour. She hires out disgraced heiress Evelyn as a traveling companion and almost as immediately befrenemies the Emerson brothers while in Egypt. Therein becomes a mystery or adventure story.
The big issue with the book is not any kind revisionist feminist anachronism, so much as the erasure of pretty much any Egyptian characters except as plot products toward the central plot, as well as, a kind of neo-Orientalism, at almost the exact same time Edward Said was detailing the history of that cultural obsession.
Ceremony – Leslie M Silko – 5/5 stars
This is not a perfect book. That would imply for me a kind of narrative tightness. I think The Great Gatsby is a perfect book; No Country for Old Men is a perfect book; The Remains of the Day is a Perfect book. Perfect books are tight, clean, crisp. This book is a beautiful shambling mess of a book. It accrues more weight and volume as it goes. It more mirrors a human life this way, that as the story and the protagonist move forward in the story, they pick up more and more debris and detritus. This is the kind of book this is. One where you can feel the love and brilliance and beauty heaped upon an already heaped upon narrative.
Tayo is a Navajo; he is a prisoner of war; he is a US soldier. As these different parts of his life get told in a kind of spiraling way, the various elements of each play off each other. He feels extremely alienated as a non-white soldier, segregated and exoticized in the US. And in the Pacific theater, he is captured and experiences some of the worst treatment, terror, and torture a soldier could. And then he returns home to find no welcoming home awaiting him here. Instead, the cultural alienation he
Brothers in Arms – 4/5
So! – I wrote this review already but there was an error in the site. So you will have to bear with me as I struggle through writing it another time!
Anyhoo! I decided at some point earlier this year that I would revisit the Vorkosigan Saga in part because my library has a lot of them on Overdrive, and I read them in print last time. Also, last time I read them, I was reading the very first one on the day that previewed a really bad break up and so I have, not a sour taste about them at all, but I rushed through them, because if you haven’t guessed yet, I stress read!
Blame Trump and a a job change for all the books I read this year. My girlfriend might also say blame them for the extra afternoon beers I’ve been drinking.
So this book is just great. It felt really transitory to me the first time I read it…an adventure, and an adventure that is specifically designed to introduce us to Mark Vorkosigan.
It turns out that I was wrong about both. It is a great adventure, but because I had been reading it in an omnibus collection I wasn’t really taking it for what it was, and instead treating it as a transition between other stories. The introduction to Mark, the introduction of Galeni, are incredibly important, but I think I understood them in opposite order from how they were created. Rather than being created backwards, she seems to have put them to use afterward. Her economy and efficiency are something I am going to talk about in my next review of Ethan of Athos.