I haven’t blogged in over a week, for several reasons.
First, since I have to wait for the removal of the 1972 Mercedes Benz 250c in the back yard before I can bring in the topsoil with which I shall finish the labyrinth, work on that project is at a standstill. So no blogging there.
Second, we’re in the final throes push for Coriolanus. It’s amazing how trying to get a late Shakespeare play ready for an audience will consume your extra time, energy and thought.
Third, the idea that I could write during all of this about that stupid Quiet Strength stuff is not even worth exploring.
So, I am at loose ends this afternoon, as I sip my liquids in preparation for my first ever colonscopy in the morning. Yes, I’m sharing. And no, “loose ends” was not a pun. That’s later this evening.
I’m about to repair to the back yard where I will warm myself in the sun and do one of two things: a) redefine literacy assessment in the state of Georgia; and/or b) read more of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, a lovely French novel I got last week after reading it reviewed in The Week.
If I finish both of those, then I have two other books that came yesterday that I’m quite excited about. The first is The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Volume II, The Kingdom on the Waves, by M.T. Anderson. Anderson is one of my favorite writers. He seems to be able to do anything. Feed, a dystopian teen science fiction novel which will change your relationship with internet connectivity forever. Whales on Stilts and its sequels (collectively known as M.T. Anderson’s Thrilling Tales): Whales is a total and hysterical goof on the kids’ adventure series genre, but at the end of The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen it seems that Mr. Anderson is up to something odd. We await The Flame Pits of Delaware: a Jasper Dash Adventure with baited breath.
And of course, the first volume of Octavian Nothing was, as its title says, astonishing. Alternative historical fiction, if you will, set in the American Revolution. Journals, narrative, letters, other kinds of sources, pile up to tell us the story of Octavian Nothing, a young man raised in curious circumnstances by philosophers in Philadelphia in the 1760s.
The second book calling my name is Gregory Maguire’s A Lion Among Men, the third of the Wicked series. Now if all you know of Wicked is the insipid and saccharine musical, you are missing an astounding telling of tales. Maguire takes Frank L. Baum’s Oz and reimagines it as the setting of a grim political thriller. Conditioned as we are to see Baum’s characters in terms of the great 1939 movie, it’s more than a little shocking to discover a dark, dangerous, and coherent back story lurking beneath the cheerful map of Munchkinland.
Wicked itself covers the original story, giving us the life of Elpheba, aka the Wicked Witch of the West, and the desperate times she found herself in. The sequel, Son of a Witch, follows Liir, her son, as he finds himself continuing his mother’s journey. In both, and in the first three pages of Lion which I allowed myself to read, Maguire is a master prose stylist, amusing and astounding you in turns with his wit and imaginative power.
If you don’t hear from me for a couple of days, you’ll know where I am.