One of my “reading words” is “chrestomathy.” I have no idea how to pronounce it, and I keep forgetting to look it up. At least I know what it means, a selection of passages from an author to aid in understanding a language. So between reading “help wanted” ads, writing 75 different versions of my resume, and finishing up a couple paid articles, I grabbed the two volumes of HL Mencken’s eponymous Chrestomathies off our shelves for some comfort. And they really are quite soothing if you are a cantankerous and cynical person, as I am. In this case, the chrestomathy is designed to teach the language of criticism and invective, with a sharp turn toward literary and social insight. Besides his considerable wit, Mencken had a wonderful ear for the sound of language.
It is not by accident that there has never been a book on Socialism which was also a work of art. Papa Marx’s Das Kapital at once comes to mind. It is as wholly devoid of graces as The Origin of Species or Science and Health; one simply cannot conceive a reasonable man reading it without aversion; it is as revolting as a barrel organ.
-from “Jack London”
He is a man who has lied and dissembled, and a man who has crawled. He knows the taste of boot-polish. He has suffered kicks in the tonneau of his pantaloons. He has taken orders from his superiors in knavery and he has wooed and flattered his inferiors in sense. His public life is an endless series of evasions and false pretenses. He is willing to embrace any issue, no matter how idiotic, that will get him votes,and he is willing to sacrifice any principle, however sound, that will lose them for him. I do not describe the democratic politician at his inordinate worst; I describe him as he is encountered in the full sunshine of normalcy
-from “Notes on Democracy”
I was all over the place this month, reeling drunkenly from short story to short story, genre to genre, the only novel of note was a re-read of Fight Club, which I’ve done every couple of years since it was published in 1996. It is very, very close to being a perfect novel: black as night, funny and angry, well-written and bold. The novel has been overshadowed by the movie adaption, but the movie is all straight from the book, even lifting large chunks of dialogue directly, but neither diminishes the other. Both should be studied as how to adapt a piece of fiction for the screen, namely, if there’s a good reason to adapt it, maybe don’t throw out all the parts that made the work worth adapting in the first place. [casts Swiss’ patented narrowed-gaze at Altered Carbon, Less Than Zero, World War Z, Starship Troopers, Wanted, ad infinitum]
My will to read has been blunted by two months of legal documents, application forms and fixing the sub-literate internal and outward-facing forms, paperwork and notices of my workplace. Perhaps I’ll finish the novel I’ve been 2/3 of the way through for four months on my flight to New Jersey today, but I’ll probably just watch a shitty movie on the in-light entertainment system instead.
I am afraid the only thing I read of consequence in the last month is my company’s compliance policy with GDPR, the SOP related to it, and the proposed rewrite I drew up and sent to the lawyers for approval.
This week JW is reading palms…with his dick. Drop by JW’s Boutique Palmistry shop and find out the intimate details of your future by giving JW a handy.*
*Lubricant will be provided gratis by jesse.in.mb, apparently this shit has an expiration date.
I’m continuing to work my way through Jon Talton’s David Mapstone series in eBooks borrowed from the Maricopa County Library District. I’m on High Country Nocturne. I’m still enjoying them, but the emotional drama with the protagonist’s personal relationships has started wearing on me. I don’t do emotional drama in my own relationships, and I generally don’t want to deal with it in my escapist reading, either.
However, what I’m mostly concentrating on currently are books on Alzheimer’s, dementia, memory loss, cognitive decline, and how to be an effective caregiver to people undergoing the process. I’m not necessarily fooling myself that we’ll be able to reverse it, but we might be able to slow the progression. Maybe.
The neuroscience is always fascinating to me, but right now I am really reading to understand more of what my mother-in-law is experiencing and learn new ways to cope with the exhaustion and sadness I am encountering as we enfold her into our home and daily life. We didn’t expect it to be easy, but I’m not sure I fully understood how draining it is emotionally to witness her struggle all day every day.
If I find any of the books particularly helpful or insightful, I’ll write a standalone post on the topic in August.