The Man in the High Castle

I’ve read three out of 30 books so far for the Goodreads Challenge. This time I finished The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick. Maybe its the current climate, but it’s hard to read dystopian fiction right now, especially this type of what if speculation.

The book takes place in a reality where FDR was assassinated before Pearl Harbor which allows Germany and Japan to win the war and divide the US between them.  The Nazi regime has exterminated almost all those of Jewish descent as well as most Africans. The American South has revived slavery and the American spirit has been demoralized. It’s not a pretty picture.

Looking back on it from this end of time it is of course very dated.  The characters are not very fleshed out, especially the females (both of them).  While I do now regret reading this book, I don’t imagine it’s one I’ll ever read again.  I will try another book of PKD’s though.

Two down, 28 to go

I made my goal for Goodreads at 30 books. So far I’ve read two.  One was by Chuck Wendig called Damn Fine Story and the other was Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.

Wendig’s book is for storytellers. It’s full of his humor and thoughts. The man is quite entertaining as a writer, blogger and personality on Twitter. I enjoyed it. I actually laughed out loud at parts and definitely found enough instruction and advice in there to bring into my own writing.

The Egan book on the other hand was well crafted, well researched but distant. I never got a feel for the characters. Like most literary works, books that don’t fall into easy categories like sci-fi, self help, humor, romance, etc, I found it a bit cold. I never really found an in to the characters. There was nothing about them that made them seem anything other than distant. It was a good book, but for me that detail, the lack of caring about the characters kept it from being amazing. No dig on Ms. Egan. She is a very gifted writer and I will certainly keep an eye out for her other works.

New Year, New Book List

I participated in the 2017 reading goal with 25 books. I ended up reading 30. I went about this blindly, just selecting books at random. This year I have a plan. I blame NaNoWriMo for this. I rarely plan things, but a few of the books I want to read will count as research for my next project. 

So here is a list of books that I plan on reading in 2018. I’ll have a goal of 30 total, but this list is to get me started. 

Delta Blues by Ted Gioia

Kite runner by Khaled Hosseini

Blues Legacies by Angela Davis

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Blues People by Amiri Baraka

Anatomy of a Story Teller by John Truby

Sin in Soft Focus by Mark Vieira

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

Chloe & Olivia by Lillian Faderman

What Happened by Hillary Clinton 

Queens of Innie Lear by Tessa Grafton

Queens of Conquest by Alison Weir

Henry David Thoreau by Laura Walls

White Rage y Carol Anderson

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okafor

Doc Holliday by Gary Roberts

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

God is not great by Christopeher Hitchens

The Rodent Who Came to Dinner Part 2

Where was I? Oh yeah. We’re all at home, snuggled in the bed watching Naked and Afraid XL, because that’s what we do, when D heard a scratching sound come from under the bed. Immediately we look for the three dogs and the cat. All are accounted for. WTF, right? Right. It’s the rodent.

Further chasing of rat ensues as one shih tzu sleeps on the bed while the yorkie and I are trying to catch this thing and the wife and daughter are out in the car. The damn rat runs across the headboard, leaps for the bedside table, falls off the lamp and tries to climb up the wall. The shih tzu is still asleep. He in fact remains asleep until I strip the bed of sheets that now had maybe come into contact with rodent feet. Thanks, Dash. You just wait there, buddy.

D and E end up going to a hotel/motel for the night, because obviously no one is sleeping in that room until there’s a dead rat. Or at least until my loving, big hearted wife sees the carcass (Seriously. She demanded to see the remains.)

Fast forward an hour or so. It’s past midnight. I’m on the couch in the living room with three dogs, only one of which is actively trying to help and a cat who has apparently gone on strike. I have the mallet and the high-powered bb gun my dad gave me when I lived near water in case snakes got in the yard. After about three am I started falling asleep feeling a lot like Private Pyle from Full Metal Jacket.

The yorkie and I did manage to almost catch the damn thing. In fact, we ended up trapping it in E’s room. E is 9. She’s brilliant and thrives on chaos. Her room looks like a landfill made up of books, shopkins and DC Superhero Girls. It’s a mess.

I slam a few more traps in there, complete with a huge glue one, (the yorkie managed to catch herself on that one), shut the door, stuff something between the door and the floor and fall into a heap of exhaustion on the couch. I promptly woke up at every little noise.

That morning, a friend came over to help with the Great Rat Chase of 2017. He was brave enough to enter the room while the yorkie and I kept up the guard in the hallway, alert and ready for it to make a run for it.

Finally though, M got it. We take a picture of the carcass, it gets posted to Facebook, the family comes home and I’m done.

Seems rather anticlimactic, but there you have it.

 

The Rodent Who Came to Dinner Part One

I wasn’t feeling my best Thanksgiving Day, but the kid was determined to start decorating for Christmas. So, I dragged my wretched body out the storage shed and hauled in two boxes and what I thought was the tree. I put them in the kitchen, left them alone and then declared myself done with the whole ordeal. I calmly went back to the couch and continued feeling miserable.

Cut to a scene ten minutes later. The wife (D) opens the largest box and pulls out the tree skirt. She notices it has holes in it, but nothing prepares us for what happens next: the rodent who charged out of the box, ran across my wife’s foot and disappeared. There were yells, screams, I won’t say I saw my wife push our nine year old daughter (E) out of the way and hurdle the back of the couch, but I have vague memories of that. I ran and grabbed the broom. All miserable feelings were instantly replaced with a desire to rid the house of the rodent. The broom soon becomes a croquet mallet E had used for Halloween when she went as Harley (the DC Comic Girls Harley) because I’ve read The Shining and we didn’t have a roque mallet.

We ended up running to Wal-Mart and getting every type of rat catching device they had. The yorkie and I placed them all around the house. We went to bed that night, all of us in one bed, two adults, the 9 yo, two shih tsus and the yorkie. I had to work the real job the next day of course and D and E had tickets to show and went. I made it home first and was disappointed that I did not find a dead rodent in one of our ingeniously placed traps.

So I went on the hunt for it. The yorkie had it cornered, or so we thought. D and E get home and we decide to go to bed after a futile hunt that destroyed the kitchen.

Here ends part one. Part two will be posted soon.

I survived and finished #Nanowrimo2017

I successful completed the National Novel Writing Month challenge for 2017.  Already I look forward to next year. It was a great experience.

So far what I have is a 50,177 word first draft that is not finished, not pretty and not like anything else I’ve written.  Of course, it has the lesbian element.  I can’t see writing a book that does not. There’s a little relationship thing, romantic that is.  There’s an element of mystery as well, and as always here lies sarcasm.  Here’s an except from it as it stands now:

The facts as I know them are pretty simple. I went on a boat with five of my closest friends. At some point there was a storm. The boat sank or maybe capsized. I really do not know which. Three of us were found on the island, sunburned and dehydrated. Two of us were found in the water, in much worse conditions. One of us was never found.

My name is Claire Susan Evans and I am a survivor. I just wish I knew what exactly I had survived.

Thanks everyone.  Have a good one.

Halfway through

Day 15 of Nanowrimo.  I am more than halfway through my draft at almost 32k. I’ve hit the hard part. The middle of the story. The flow is not as quick or strong.  Now it’s just pushing through until I get back to the fun stuff, the climax and denouement.

It’s fun so far.  Very different from my usual stuff. I think so anyway.  I cannot wait to finish the first draft and then go back and read it.  I’m making a conscious effort not to read it until after I type the last words.  Part of Nanowrimo is to turn off your inner editor.  It’s not easy.