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Oct. 25th, 2011

09:09 pm - Even the red umbrella couldn't help with these rains

Those of you who live in relative proximity to Ireland may have heard that we had flooding here yesterday, especially in Dublin.  Serious flooding.  Real, no messing, don't travel if you don't have to, cars abandoned, scary flooding.  When Younger Daughter left the house to go to Trinity yesterday morning, it was all set to be a rainy day.  She left prepared for said rainy day.  But later in the afternoon I heard that the trains were suspended past Dun Laoghaire, some 3 to 4 miles between us and the city centre, so I texted her and told her.  Suspension of services like these aren't that infrequent and are usually fixed fairly soon, so she decided to stay in town, have dinner, and wait for the promised end of the rain.  And sure enough, by the time she'd finished dinner the Irish Rail website was saying the trains were running again, with some delays, and she got on a train with rejoicing.  (Though drenched, as the rain hadn't even slowed at all.) But then the train stopped after just two stations and there was an inaudible announcement, so I checked the website again, couldn't see what was wrong, and saw the train before hers had made it all the way to our station.  They started again, three more stations and they stopped, telling everyone there was something like 3 feet of water on the line ahead so no point waiting. When she phoned me to tell me this, she was shaking with cold, so badly I could hear her teeth chattering.

I tried ringing a couple of taxi companies, to see if anyone could get a taxi there, but was told there wasn't a hope, because of bad flooding just near the station where she was stranded.  No trains, no taxis, presumably no buses, so I got into my car.  My plan was to see if I could find a taxi at a rank nearby, park and get the taxi to go as close to Booterstown as possible, which I communicated with Y.D. as I set off.  I knew some likely trouble spots on the roads from previous floodings, but was stunned at how bad it was even around home, with sand bags at the bottom of a road right in the main part of Dalkey, torrential rain still pouring down and half of the roads badly flooded.  No taxis, of course, so I told Y.D. to start walking along the main road and I'd drive towards her and if she saw a bus to hop on it and I'd meet her wherever.  A few roads I hadn't expected to be bad were closed, but I got through okay until I was nearly in Blackrock, where there was a shopping centre where whichever one of us got there first could wait safely.  And then just a bit farther and I saw the road was completely impassible, and hadn't been closed off yet, and Y.D. was the other side of this massive flooded area.  The woman in the car stopped in front of me came over and said there seemed to be nothing to do but drive over the road divider to turn around,  unless they could clear the road behind us,  but then she didn't seem able to get up on the divider, with a few tries.  At which point a construction worker came walking towards us, talked to her and came over to me, and said "You're not getting through THAT", which I well knew.  I asked about the woman in the car in front of me and he said "She's afraid of the car being mumble mumble" and walked off into the night. 

Eventually she got over and turned around and I rammed my car at the divider with more desperation than wisdom, perhaps, but got over it.  I pulled in as soon as I could, around the corner from the flooded area, and phoned Y.D. again.  She'd walked to that part, saw it was totally flooded and then gasped in horror as someone walked into it and went up to their waist in water. I was saying "DO NOT GO IN THAT WATER", and told her where I was and to cut down to Blackrock village if the road was safer there, and she agreed and then her phone cut off. I went in - through ankle deep water - to the house whose driveway I was blocking to ask if I could leave the car there while I tried to meet her.  They were lovely, lovely people (and had a lovely dog, too!), and asked where I was trying to go - the husband had just got back from Dalkey, picking up one of his kids, and said it was "completely mental" out there. Which was an odd coincidence, though I agreed with him about how bad Dalkey was. A slip road was also impassible, but finally Y.D. and I managed to meet on a back road from Blackrock.  Much to both our relief.  At that point, it mattered less that the car started and we drove home, as we could have left her bag in the car and walked, if we'd had to.  But barring one road closure that forced an interesting detour through parts sort of unknown, and another hasty re-routing because of an obviously bad road, we got home with much less bother than the trip out had been, and it was only drizzling by the time we got here.

Once Y.D. was warm and dry and had stopped shivering, I was feeling a combination of traumatized and SUPER-MOM TO THE RESCUE last night.  I've driven through Tucson during a monsoon flood - the kind that carry cars away on a regular basis - and that wasn't half as terrifying as last night's drive. But this morning I woke to hear that a young garda had died while trying to direct traffic safely in Wicklow, and later heard that a woman had been found drowned in a basement in Dublin. Which put everything into sad perspective. 

Oct. 19th, 2011

03:08 pm - The Girl of Fire and Thorns

So, I realised the other day that a certain light had gone out of my life, now that I'm not reading ALL THE BOOKS -[just channeling Hyperbole and a Half there, I never read anything like all the books] for our History Book, and enjoying venting spleen in rants that pretty much wrote themselves. So, must stop being lazy and start talking about more of the books I'm just reading, especially when they're books everyone else has read and I want to join in the conversation - or ones I want to get other people to consider reading.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is pretty firmly in the former category, at least in the YA-reading world. I'd been waiting for it for ages, because of its pre-publication praise by people I trust. Because I'm still pretty lazy, here's the inside jacket description, copy 'n pasted from Goodreads.

Read more...Collapse )

[LJ is being obnoxious, and I may have to post this unedited - apologies for rough-draftness. I think it's the third day I've been trying to work on this and now the keyboard seems to be packing it in too.] 

In case it's not clear, there was much I loved about this book,and I'm very much looking forward to the sequel, due out next October.

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Sep. 24th, 2011

08:44 pm

The other day I happened to see a large sign in a shop window in the city centre advertising ice grips in stock AND that evening found there were thermal socks with a tog rating for sale in our local (small) grocery store.  I'm still pondering the question of whether such early Irish preparations for a winter even worse than the last one are the equivalent of animals growing extra-thick fur and storing more food than normal or conversely represent the Great Irony of -- well, Sod's Law.  If I had to bet large sums of money on it, I'd go for the latter, though I do have to admit that in our hall sit three neatly packaged pairs of ice grips.  (Hold them cheap may who ne'er slipped in Dalkey last winter!)  Moneyless bets taken anytime from now until the first snow.  Or spring.

On the same lines, I was talking to the man who was our landlord for the first two years after we moved to Ireland and found out he was THE person who fell onto the tracks in Dalkey train station last winter during the second or third Big Snow.  (A minor local celebrity, for obvious reasons.) He'd been six months in hospital, and you have to admire the spirit of someone who could say of the experience that he'd made a better recovery than they'd expected, so it was all good.  (Except for the glorious summer he'd heard so many predictions of as he lay in his hospital bed, which didn't happen.)

In more cheerful vein, I've recently been reminded that no matter what life throws at you, Jane Austen never disappoints. I'm sure I've quoted one of my favourite lines from Northanger Abbey before here, but, just to set it up again, here's what Catherine Morland says about "real solemn history", which she cannot be interested in:

"I read it a little as a duty,
but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me.
The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences,
in every page; the men all so good for nothing,
and hardly any women at all--it is very tiresome:"
Great stuff, but what I realised with some excitement as we were editing a section on alternate histories, is that when Catherine goes on to say:

."..and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull,
for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches
that are put into the heroes' mouths, their thoughts
and designs--the chief of all this must be invention,
and invention is what delights me in other books."
Jane Austen was anticipating the concept of history as narrative by well over a hundred years. And here I'd thought that the famous defence of the novel passage was the best bit of brilliantly cheeky genius to be found in the novel!  Honestly compels me to admit that I'm with Catherine at least in being totally ignorant of real solemn history, and the critical material on history as narrative was all provided by steepholm

Sep. 18th, 2011

07:12 pm - Saying Yes to Gay YA (and its authors)

Probably everyone knows what the subject line refers to, but for any who might not, Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown posted their experience with an agent who offered to take their co-written YA novel *with* conditions, on Genreville. Many other spec-fic authors came forward telling of similar experiences with manuscripts containing gay characters, and notable figures in the field of "genre" writing (generally speaking, science fiction and fantasy) talked about how underrepresented LGBTQ characters were in the literature.  And then the backlash came, with the agency -- unnamed by Sherwood and Rachel -- denying Sherwood and Rachel's account, and explicitly accusing them of "exploiting" the agent.  I didn't manage to read much of anything online over the last few days, and became aware of the accusations levelled at Sherwood and Rachel only a bit after the fact.  And, to be honest, I was as frustrasted as I was stunned, because I didn't see how I could do anything except make the kind of impassioned "I KNOW them, and they WOULD NOT behave like this" statement which is (rightly) viewed with skepticism by those who don't know the people involved.  The number of communities in which I don't have any kind of clout or respect and in which I'm not known is very large.  I'm not an author, an editor, an academic or a professional, and a couple of retweet (which I've done) may get a few readers, while an LJ post will mostly be read by those who already know Rachel and Sherwood and the situation, plus a few others wandering by, with no reason to pay attention to my impassioned statement.

And then I realised that while I can do nothing about getting more people to see this, I can do more than just say "Here's my personal - relevant - experience with these two authors"; I can say that and add "But you don't have to take my word for it".  (Yup, read that in LeVar Burton's voice, if you ever enjoyed the fabulous PBS Reading Rainbow.)  I can tell you where you can see evidence that backs up my experience.  And having done that, I can - as others have done already - point out a logical problem or two with the accusations being made against Sherwood and Rachel. 

So, I've been reading and loving Sherwood's books since I ordered Crown Duel and read it to my older daughter many years ago.  I found her LJ account (sartorias) a few years after that, and have read her riffs on writing, reading, life, the universe and everything with great appreciation.  The relevant part though, is that I have had the privilege of being a reader for her for some six or seven of her adult novels, starting with The Fox (second in the Inda Quartet).  Remember all those professional credentials I don't have? Right.  So if Sherwood were at all likely to respond to an agent offering to represent her novel by essentially throwing a hissy fit at the suggestion she & Rachel have to make some changes for purposes of tightening up the novel or the like, when a reader with no creds whatsoever suggests changes, there should be heads rolling, right? Of course, Sherwood couldn't have responded more differently.  I never suggested as big a change as losing a character, obviously, but these are relatively big novels for the most part, and there are a lot of emails between us; I can say with total honesty that Sherwood was always deeply appreciative, never in the least bit defensive or stroppy about any suggestions I made, and was always working so hard at revising and re-revising on her own account (and with her other readers) that I often fell behind and she'd send me the new (or new new) version of chapters I was about to read. And yet people have assumed that she (and Rachel) both heard "You'll have to cut this gay character or make him straight" when the agent actually said "You're going to need to have fewer POV characters" because, y'know, they're so deeply prickly about what they've written and suggestions for changing it.

Rachel I haven't known as long, nor have I been (yet!) a proper reader for her - I read her memoir, All the Fishes Come Home to Roost, after a few people raved about it, and thought it was wonderful.  I started reading her LJ (rachelmanija) after that, and then Sherwood sent me the manuscript at the heart of all this, saying that they were just looking for a quick reaction, which I was happy to give, having liked it a lot.  Other stuff in my personal life have led me to consider Rachel a friend as well, but that isn't relevant to this topic.

So where is the "You don't have to take my word for it" stuff?  It's in both Rachel's and Sherwood's blogs, in Sherwood's publishing history and in Rachel's memoir.  Sherwood certainly doesn't blog only about her own writing, but when she does it is invariably in a way which admits what she sees as her own flaws as a writer.  In fact, she's fiercely critical of her writing, and you don't have to look far to see this, along with her determination to improve by sheer hard work.  I wanted to see if I could find an example of this, and the second page of her LJ at the time of writing popped up this post, which isn't even as self-critical as many, but gives an idea.  Rachel's memoir says so much about her compassionate response to her family in light of her abusive childhood (but with humour!) that even a quick skim through it would lead anyone to understand she's not the type to yell victimhood only because she resented someone making editorial suggestions.  Similarly with her posts about her return to university to qualify as a therapist and her volunteer work with a crisis response team.

In the logic and common sense category, it shouldn't need to be said when the timeline of events is there for all to see, but Sherwood & Rachel did not name the agent.  In fact they clearly stated that they were not naming agent or agency in order to focus attention on the problem rather than pointing the finger at one 'villain'. Yet the post by Joanna Stampfel-Volfe accuses Sherwood and Rachel of lying, of exploiting one of the agents in the agency, and - most seriously of all - of exploiting the issue.  Here's where the logic comes in: if Rachel and Sherwood did NOT name the agent with whom they had the phone conversation, Stampfel-Volfe can only claim they are lying about the conversation if she were privy to every single communication had by Rachel and Sherwood from the time they started looking for representation for the manuscript.  And even if she did have records of every single communication, she could still only give negative proof of their claim, which as we all know, isn't proof at all. Yet even without that negative proof, she's accusing them of outright lying.

Finally, another author whom I also admire but don't know, linked to her agent's response to this, calling his words "sense". Frankly, when it comes to one agent's assurance that he can almost guarantee that "there’s no one censoring gay content", set against, for example, Farah Mendlesohn's report that of the *700* YA sf books she read for The Intergalactic Playground, *5* had a positively portrayed gay character, my money would be on Farah's being the more likely to describe the truth of the situation. And then there's what Michael Bourret said about the realities of the marketplace: "There are fewer gay readers than straight readers. 'Gay books,' on average, sell less than 'straight books.'" Right, if we link those two sentences as logic suggest they are linked, that says that only gay readers will read "gay books" (scare quotes his, in fairness), while straight readers will only read "straight books".  We all know how happy it makes those of us in the world of children's literature when we hear that boys will ONLY read "boy books", meaning books with male protagonists and nice boyish covers.  But back to the LGBTQ arena - what defines a "gay book" and what a "straight book"?  What proportion of gay characters is enough to tip a book over into the "gay book" category?  Will straight readers put the book down if a friend of the (straight, obviously) protagonist comes out? Or is encountered as openly gay a few chapters in?  And even if a deeply scientific method for calculating the "gayness" or "straightness" of recently published books had been used to chart the relative sales of the (supposed) two categories - does that constitute proof that it's "the gayness" that hurt sales?  Of course not. Besides this, the agent's rather odd conflation of an argument that there's NO censoring of gay content in publishing and one saying that publishing is after all a business and "gay books" don't sell as well as "straight ones" is telling. 

I respect and admire Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown enormously, not least for their willingness to take what they knew in advance to be a costly stance about this issue.  I am entirely convinced that neither of them would be capable of fabricating a story like this had it not happened the way they reported it. My reputation is admittedly negligible, yet such as it is, I'm staking it here; anyone who looks at Rachel's or Sherwood's public writings will see a pattern of behaviour consistent with what I've shared here of my own experience.  It seems a pity that more people didn't expect Joanna Stampfel-Volpe to back up her claim that Rachel and Sherwood lied about what they experienced, instead of just taking her word for it.

[Disabling comments on this, as for whatever reason, it's getting ALL the spam. In the unlikely event that someone wants to comment about this, a comment on the previous entry will be moved over.]

Aug. 16th, 2011

08:26 pm - Back now (and cranky as usual)

It's been a while, and I've realised that I'll probably never catch up properly on everyone else's posts, so better to dive back in than stand confusedly on the shore like the little critter in the userpic.  I'm not returning with a proper rant, but flagging an issue that recurred in two articles, a character in a book and someone on BBC Radio 4's Loose Ends: food intolerances and their accompanying dietary exclusions.  (All right, I'm ranting a bit.)

One article was on the Rodale website ( I saw it via a Care2 newsletter) and titled "Is Gluten Bad for You?"  The other probably came the same way into my inbox, and is called "What We're (Not) Eating: A Potential Danger of Gluten-Free". The character is in Sarah Dessen's latest, What Happened to Goodbye, a book I liked, if maybe not quite as much as the previous one, Lock and Key.  I'm not sure who it was on Loose Ends (I missed a bit while cooking dinner), but he'd written a book which seemed of the grumpy comic complaining about everyone type and one of the things he said from the book was that he hated people claiming to have food intolerances.  (Possibly he just hated people who HAD food intolerances.)

Before-the-cut disclaimer: I have at least one food intolerance, so I'm not campaigning against intolerance intolerance solely on others' accounts.  All the same, there are several friends whose experiences with dietary issues and the rubbish other people dish out around them are also very much in mind.

Doubtless tl;dr expansion on the aboveCollapse )

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Jun. 15th, 2011

12:56 pm - Yet another request for book help

When working on the Arthur chapter of the History Book - which is totally steepholm's baby, BTW* it occurred to me that it would be nice to have a couple of books that didn't have any mention of Arthur to set against the ones we were discussing. Not just out of the pool of all books in the world that are not in any way Arthurian, obviously. What we were looking for is books set in the period where the historical Arthur is placed, whenever an historical Arthur is postulated. We couldn't come up with one, which seemed significant but not in any way conclusive. So, this is where we look to our extremely well-read flists. Again.

The specs are:

1) Children's or YA
2) set in Britain
3) late 5th to 6th century
4) no mention of Arthur, Arturos, Idris, Pendragon, etc.
5) We're primarily looking at books that are still being read by kids today, but it would still be useful to hear about older, more obscure ones too.

* The chapter on Arthur, that is, to which I have essentially contributed only by reading a couple of books I hated and telling steepholm they weren't going to be of any use to us. Negative reading is almost as useless as negative proof, but not quite!

Jun. 10th, 2011

08:27 pm - 48 HBC - Inconvenient

All right, it's taken me forever to finish writing up the small number of books I read over the weekend, but this at least is the last.

My goal of noting where I saw a review, recommendation or just passing mention of a book when adding it to my Goodreads to-read shelf is clearly not being met, and I've unfortunately no memory where I heard about Inconvenient, Margie Gelbwasser's first novel. I can see why I'd be interested once I did hear about it, as I generally love YA about the experiences of immigrant communities in the US (or UK), and Inconvenient is about a girl whose Russian-Jewish parents moved to the States when she was very young. The community is a hard-drinking one, and Alyssa's mother has been slipping from drinking hard into drinking too hard - the inconvenience of the title for Alyssa's family.

I almost put this one down after a few chapters - the prose wasn't doing much for me, and it seemed like a lot of pages and hours since I'd read anything that had really grabbed me. But I'm glad that tiredness didn't stop me from reading on, as I was really pretty impressed by the end. Alyssa's only real friend, Lana, has been her friend since they were little, and both are pretty much outsiders because of their background. Alyssa really doesn't care to be accepted by the cool gang, happy enough with Lana and a friend on the track team, but Lana is increasingly turning herself into someone else in order to be accepted, especially by 'the king' of their class. All this was pretty well done, and Keith, the guy on the track team turned out to be neither the unequivocal boyfriend Alyssa wants nor the jerk he seems as if he might be at times.

The greatest impact, however, comes from the portrayal of Alyssa's mother and her drinking problem, which is quite powerful. I didn't love the mother the way I loved the mother in Sara Zarr's Once Was Lost, but it was easy to see how moving from one country in which you were discriminated against for being Jewish to another, in which you're discriminated against for being Russian, with a hard-working but emotionally distant husband, in a culture where heavy drinking is just what you do, could be a disastrous mix. Especially as every time she really starts to become successful in writing magazine articles, the magazine folds, or a new (horrible) editor takes over who cuts her down continually.

Of course, despite that understanding of the factors that lead Alyssa's mother to problem-drinking, our sympathy is completely with Alyssa. Her mother goes through the typical cycles of denial, remorse and promises to stop abusing alcohol, dragging Alyssa through the again, all-too typical pattern of the family of an alcoholic. Her father is big on telling them they have to be tough, Lana increasingly excludes her, and she's not quite sure where she stands with Keith. The loneliness Alyssa feels, and the need to cover up for her mother, despite her growing frustration and desperation, are very moving.

I was telling Younger Daughter about the book when I'd finished, and she said wisely, from the sink where she was washing dishes, "Ah, the old button strings, eh?" It took me a minute to notice that something was wrong, but I quite like the phrase, combining buttons and heart-strings, very appropriately. When thinking about it afterwards, I did the usual 'this isn't my button, really' sidestep; perfectly true in one way, as certainly my mother never had a drinking problem. Of her own. Neither did my father, but yet as a child, I lived with two parental figures who did. Not my button, I thought, but only because I didn't realise that their drinking problems were problems - or rather that they were the kind of problem anyone ever did anything about. One thing about that, of course, is that you don't have the torturous see-saw of hope and disappointment Alyssa experiences. That part of the book was all too convincing, all the same.

Lest this sounds too bleak to be bearable, I don't think there's much harm in saying that towards the end, Inconvenience suggests that the hope of being okay can be uncoupled from the need for the other person to be okay. I certainly couldn't have loved this book if Alyssa hadn't had that much, at least.

Current Music: The Man Who Would Speak True -

Jun. 7th, 2011

10:45 pm - 48 HBC, Wrapped

Wrapped was both the weirdest coincidence of the Challenge, and the biggest disappointment. The coincidence was that brandy_painter and I both started reading it just before bed on Saturday night, getting approximately the same amount read before going to sleep. It was the biggest disappointment, not because I disliked it most of the books I read (it didn't come even close to being the most disliked), but because it sounded great in itself and also useful for the History Project. I thought it might fit well for the formerly-called-Romp category, as a sort of YA Amelia Peabody. Regency Amelia Peabody.

There isn't much reason to repeat Brandy's list of 'Historical Liberties' taken, almost every one of which I'd flagged while reading as well. So you can read that here. There is a spoiler, but I agree that it's not one that's likely to surprise many people. And having lazily piggy-backed on her work, I'll add some of the other problems I noticed.

Lord Showalter is said to be the matrimonial catch of the year, and Agnes' father is a member of the House of Lords. This is the upper layer of Regency society, clearly. And yet at Lord Showalter's big party there's a physician, a solicitor and Agnes' best friend (and reluctant 'rival' in the pursuit of a good husband), Julia, whose father is a merchant and manufacturer. Not so much. (Think of the Bingley sisters jeering at the Bennets because one uncle is an attorney and the other lives 'somewhere near Cheapside' - who is in fact, 'a man of business'. Mr Darcy doesn't join the jeering, but does agree that it must 'very materially lessen their chance of marrying men of any consideration in the world'. And neither he nor Bingley is even a peer.)

The language is a mess. It's meant to be 1815. Yet here's just a selection of the anachronistic language Agnes or the other characters use:

-suss out (first used in the 1960s)
-chat up (also well into the 1900s before the phrase is used)
-anti-imperialist views (when Agnes says she's not sure it's right to have all these foreign treasures in the British Museum)
-taxi (Just ??)
-Bollocks we will! (OED gives first use as 1940)

More problems:

-Agnes suggesting Caedmon call her by her first name at the end of their first real meeting.
-Lord Showalter quotes the opening line of Pride and Prejudice as an explanation of why he HAD to get himself a wife in order to carry on with his masquerade of a society dude.
-Near the end, after Agnes and Caedmon have saved England from a plot which might have caused Napoleon to win the war, she thinks there are no fireworks for her or Caedmon. 'Perhaps that's what it meant to be a servant. Only if you failed or performed sloppily did people pay attention. When you were successful, you were invisible.' Yup, your experience is *just* like that of a real servant.
-Word will be spread that Agnes is recovering from the scandal and heartache she supposedly suffered by 'residing in a convent in the Swiss Alps'. (A convent? In the Swiss Alps??)

It could have been SO much fun, and a lot of the worst mistakes could have been avoided just by a good reading of Jane Austen. Admittedly, that's true of many mistakes in life, I guess.

Jun. 6th, 2011

03:35 pm - 48 Hour Book Challenge - Flip

I'm feeling much more tired today than I was at any time during the Challenge itself, which is odd - and also rather flat, which is less so. But, I do want to write up the remaining books read before running out of steam altogether. Speaking of steam, the girls should be kicking off soon in the Mini Marathon, though with some 40,000 people signed up for it, it'll be a while before they actually start walking. (It's a bank holiday here, BTW.)

I can't remember where I heard about Flip, but I picked it up at the summer fair. Reading it right after The Penderwicks at Point Mouette was tough, and initially I thought I was going to find the voice too irritatingly teen boy. But body switch stories can be fun in a terrifying way if well done, and I liked most things about this one, so ended getting pretty well engrossed. Alex, the protagonist, is 14, not very attractive or popular, not very well-off and from a not great area of London, a pretty good cello player and student and not at all sporty. Philip, generally known as Flip, is from a much wealthier family living in Leeds, cool and good-looking and a star of his school's cricket team. (With two girlfriends and not very good performance in school.) When Alex wakes up inexplicably in Philip's body, he's as horrified and baffled as you would be, and only wants to get home so someone can help him figure out what has happened and change him back. It would have been easy to play the 'wealthier, cooler and much more popular isn't happier' card in a rather dull way, but Flip doesn't do that, although Alex does have moments of thinking it's great to see his hair in the mirror looking perfect., and definitely enjoys being able to run without wheezing from his asthma. Needless to say, it's not as simple as just ringing his mother and being picked up and fixed.

Although the explanation for the switch didn't bear too much thinking about in terms of plausibility (what theory of body-switching would, though?) I liked the way it wasn't tied to any kind of fate or universe's intervention in order to save one or two special souls or the like. Although Alex was forced to think really hard about questions of identity and self, as well as some pretty tough moral issues, he wasn't switched in order to learn anything, which is a major plus.

A really petty thing, which must show something of how small-minded I can be in responding to books. The term used in explaining how Alex's soul/spirit/whatever had been switched into Philip's body was 'psychic evacuation'. Which reminded me how I'd sniggered at hearing a politician accuse the UK government of organising a 'sluggish evacuation'. Maybe a bit too much psychic fibre?

Jun. 5th, 2011

05:47 pm - Finishing line, quick stats.

Added up my reading time, rang my mother, talked to the girls about dinner, and as the official finish line doesn't seem to be up at MotherReader's yet, will have to remember to clock in there later. I'll also be coming back to do at least quick write-ups on three of the books read during the Challenge.

So. Sixth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge stats:

Total hours spent reading & reviewing (or in the allowed proportion of audiobook listening and reading/commenting on other participants' blogs) 32 hours, 15 minutes.

Books read: 7 and about a quarter of an audiobook.

Donating €50 to Barnardos.

Interesting connections between the books? None jumped out at me this year. Will think about it as I walk down to buy groceries.

Degree of challenge? It seemed surprisingly easy this year! I'm still slower than most of the world, and finishing a few of the books demanded my trademark iron discipline (for anyone who doesn't know me, that's 100% sarcastic), but being able to switch from iPod and audiobook to print book so I didn't waste time while feeding the dogs or myself helped a lot, and as always, it was great that there were so many people participating. Also, glasses instead of contacts for the weekend made continuous reading much easier. A detail I'm sure everyone finds deeply fascinating.

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