Friday, March 03, 2006

What I'm reading:
Red Thunder
American Evita
How Stella got her Groove Back.

Red Thunder is a John Varley. It's dedicated to Heinlein and Spider Robinson, and the blurbs say he's the next Heinlein, which in anybody else would be hubris but for Varley that works. The story itself is rather silly - some kids build a spaceship in their back yard to get to Mars before NaSA and the Chinese.
That theme worked fine when I was 9 reading Ms. Pigly-Wiggly goes to Mars, or whatever it was called. In fact I remember at 11 reading a picture book about three pigs who run out of gas for their plane, so they stop, build a still, and make fuel from grass. I was like, wait, you can make fuel from grass? That solves the energy crisis! It was 1971, and energy was a big deal.
Red Thunder is also about solving the energy crisis. There's a mad scientist and a damsel in distress and a perpetual motion McGuffinator. But it works, because of the characters and the prose. It's a good read, but not his best.

How Stella also has a distinctive and fun prose style - sentences that go on for half the page, like German or Jefferson. Same author as Waiting to Exhale, both now movies. I'll eventually update this entry with an example. I needed something to read in the tub. I'd found the book as one of many with the covers torn off in the dumpster of the local lesbian bookstore - an early model of open source info distribution, subject to the usual pirates-versus-ninjas arguments. (It's not stealing - it's recycling.) By page 66, the afro-centrism is getting on my nerves.
She's in Jamacia and has just met the Taye Diggs character - I might or might not finish it. The cheap-hotel-by-the-week I'm staying at has no bathtub, just a rust-covered shower, so I went to Kroger to get some Kaboom, which actually works as well as the late night infomercials claim didn't work at all. It was $3 and rang up as $5.55, so I complained and they gave it to me free, which also happened last time I went to Kroger. The cheap hotel is a step up from sleeping in my car - yesterday I woke up in bloomington, in the parking lot of the Saraha Mart, and then drove to Greene County to bail out my roommate, who is not my roommate anymore because she stole $4 from my pockets while I slept so I kicked her out, straws and camels. Imagine the above paragraph packed into one long sentence and you get a sense of the narrative style of How Stella.

American Evita: Hillary Clinton's Path to Power
is not deep or footnoted or breaking new ground, but it fills in some gaps I didn't know or had forgotten. The subtitle evokes Robert Caro's "Path to Power", volume 2 of his bio of LBJ, and there is much in common between the two stories, the rise and fall of ruthless ends-before-means egomaniacs. When I read these stories I'm torn between being appalled and being jealous - I have a bit of that craving for power, although by now at 45 I've missed my shot.

I'm at the university library, which involved a 20 mile drive and a mile walk and closes in an hour. The need to blog is strong - being offline all day is frustrating, although it frees me up to go have adventures. Now that I have a place by the week I can concentrate on looking for a new house, and then I can get back online and think about looking for work, or at least renting out my body for medical experiments - Lilly has a research lab a block from here, and I've done that sort of thing before.

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