Daily Archives: October 7, 2011

Long Day Journey Into an Ant Bed

I should have known this was coming yesterday when I took a nap and kept noticing a few things crawling on me occasionally.  But I was preoccupied with musing about other goings on. 

Then last night I went in there to rest a few minutes and conked out, only to be awakened around midnight-thirty with a lot of things crawling on me.  Pretty much all at once, doing a little stinging here and there.

That half of the bed is taken up by upwards of a hundred books, some read already, some partway through the experience of being read, some waiting to be read, some held for re-reading.    They’re usually not enough of a problem to outweigh the advantage of having a book near at hand when I need something to read.  But when I turned the light on, here’s what I saw last night:

It’s not the first time that’s happened and I could have prevented further invasion if I’d been paying closer attention.  I keep a container of boric acid powder nearby and usually try to do a pre-emptive strike on them on a fairly regular basis.  But it requires taking the layers upon layers of books off and squirting the boric acid powder all over the underlying bed surface.

This, I’m reluctant to do, because everything gets disorganized and I lose track of which things have already been read, which are waiting to be read, which are occupied holding something else up, and generally where things are.

So they sneaked up on me.  I had to do it in the middle of the night with no pre-planning, no organization at all.

Sheeze.  Now it’s chaos in there.


9:30 AM edit:

Heck, I might as well add this since I’ve got them there together now.  Here are a couple of authors I’ve come across lately I’ve enjoyed a lot.

They’re thrift store books, so I’m not certain you could find them easily, but both authors have an interesting approach, plotting is tight, characterization’s good, and they hold the attention well. 

Upfield writes about an aboriginal who’s an Australian police homicide detective and his mystery solvings, along with his ethnic difficulties trying to do his job in that setting, along with his internal struggles demanding he go back to being a bushman.  Good reads.

Alexander’s a completely different bag of tricks.  He’s created a blind brother to Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones, who’s a magistrate-cum-detective in London.  His characters include Dr. Johnson, whores, a pirate, poets, actors, and all manner of peasantry.  The narrator is actually a ‘Boswell’ sort relating the activities and events, a young teenager taken off the streets.

I don’t have enough distance from the Alexander books yet to decide whether it’s his unique and innovative setting, plotting and characterization intrigues me so much about him, or whether he’s also a damned good author.

Old Jules

11:20 AM edit:

Heck, I might as well add these since everything’s screwed up in there anyway:

Mari Sandoz – Crazy Horse, and Old Jules.  Mari’s my daughter in a previous lifetime.  Her biography of Crazy Horse is better than a lot of others about him.  Her biography of me during that lifetime is as good as you’d expect from a daughter.

Doug Stanton, In Harm’s Way is the hair-raising account of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during the last days of WWII, and the ordeals of the survivors in shark infested waters off the coast of Japan.

Dan van der Vat, The Pacific Campaign is nothing to write home about. Of the thousand-or-so books following the steps, events, tactics and strategies of the Pacific War this one ranks in the bottom third,in my estimation.

Lauro Martines, Fire in the City, is a narrative of the strange and
surprising emergence of Friar Girolamo Savonarola in Rennaisance Florence.  So little attention has been paid this fascinating man and time it’s worth the read even if you aren’t crazy about Martines’s particular style of writing and his method of organizing his material.

Fifteen Flags – Ric Hardman

A Chief-Executive War Half-Century Before Vietnam

[They didn’t come back even when it was over, over there]

Sometimes we get lucky and a fiction work sets us off on a journey of discovery.  For me, this was such a work.  Fifteen Flags was a launchpad.

One of the defining events of the 20th Century was the Russian Revolution.  The International response, both in diplomacy and military intervention set the tone for the next seven decades of Soviet interactions with Europe and the US, and to a lesser degree, Japan.

I’d done a lot of reading years ago about the US troop involvement at the time of the Russo-Japanese War and  had a vague background of reading about the International forces guarding the railroads while the White Russians fought the Trotsky forces.  I even knew US forces were involved.

But what Ric Hardman managed to do with this tome was to broaden the scope of what happened there in my own perception enough to cause me to want to know more.  Hardman’s characters, whether they’re US troops, Japanese cooperating in the International venture to guard the railways, Chinese, Czech, or German POWs trying to survive being prisoners awaiting release in a time of military chaos and famine:  “Life is cheap.”

If I had to make a one sentence summary of this book, this set of events, this episode in world history I suppose no better words exist.

WWI — Russia


Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War


Polar Bear Expedition


American Expeditionary Force Siberia



Book Reviews:
Do you enjoy reading reviews of books as a part of planning what you’d like to read?  Jeanne, the lady who administers this blog, is a library employee  in KS, and tells me about books, sometimes calls me when she’s picking through boxes of books in an auction parking lot waiting to be hauled to the dump after an auction, to find out if I’d like to own them.

But Jeanne also put me on to this newsletter library people evidently read:

Shelf Awareness

Full of reviews of books soon to be published.


How to sell your war to the cannon fodder:

Cagney/Cohan, “Over There”, from Yankee Doodle Dandy [WWI] (1942)