Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Oh my goodness I have been neglecting this thing. Not neglecting reading though of course, I could never do that. But I also do know I haven't been reading as much as I used to. Not replacing it with watching TV though (even though hockey has of course returned to the airwaves now), but the problem with dating someone who has a larger comic book collection than you do, is that there are more comics to read. So yeah, reading a lot of comics, no so much books.

But, books I HAVE finished in the last while... Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories II by Annie Prouxl and The Last Knight: The Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era by Norman F. Cantor. Both of these books were purchased in Stratford when I went to see Coriolanus with G, and that was in July. Tells you how busy my summer was, huh?

I enjoyed Bad Dirt as much as I liked Prouxl's first short story collection. Many of these stories took place in the same towns as other stories, and that gives them a nice homey (read: claustrophobic) feeling to what is a very large state. I thought it was a nice touch. Some of them had a bit more of a supernatural element to them, which was definitely interesting, and there was still a lot of despicable people getting their comeuppances. And in one story I was tickled to see one of the characters spell his name the same way that G spell's his :)

The Last Knight was a wonderful look at the end of the Middle Ages mainly focused through the life of John of Gaunt, one of the very wealthy, very powerful sons of Edward III. Gaunt was brother to Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) and one of England's ruling Plantagenet family. He became, through marriage, the Duke of Lancaster, and so became the patriarch of the Lancastrian branch of the Plantagenets, one of the two families who would later become embroiled in the War of the Roses. Anyway, in modern terms, Gaunt would be considered a billionaire, that's how wealthy he was at the time, and like any member of the ruling class, being it part of a medival society or a capitalist one, he was pretty fond of the status quo. That's not to say he didn't also sometimes flirt with progressive thinking, in fact, Gaunt was a patron for quite some time of Chaucer's, so he did promote the arts. But overall, Gaunt was a product of the 1300s and was not quite ready to move into a more modern era, Not that the 1400s were all that modern mind you, but medieval society was definitely changing during the end of Gaunt's era. Anyway yeah, very interesting, historical read. Cantor also has a book out about the Black Plague, which also sound neat, I may have to check it out as well.

I'm also nearly finished One Knight Only, the second of Peter David's Arthurian themed books. Rather less humourous than the first one, this one seems to be David's rather visceral reaction to 9-11. Arthur is now President of the United States, and not only has his administration had to weather an extremely brutal terrorist attack on US soil (David doesn't go into details about the kind of attack, but the 9-11 parallels are inescapable), but also, after the US retaliates against the terrorists, they then make it personal by having Gwen (the First Lady, natch) assasinated. Well, almost assasinated. So of course, Gwen, hovering near death necessitates the need for a Grail Quest. I'm always up for a good Grail Quest, but this one is made quite interesting in that the Grail's new keeper (and I use 'new' in a very loose sense here) is someone who is quite possibly the first 'hero'. And he makes for a very good contrast to Arthur's more modern hero. All in all, its a good read so far, a little bombastic and rah rah America, but overall, its also a good treatise on free will and human rights against dictatorships and whatnot and I am very interested in seeing how it gets all played out.

Also recently, did a comfort rereading of Pamela Dean's Tamlin for the umpteenth time.

Next up on the bedside table is Neil Gaiman's Anasasi Boys.