New improved! books in the bathtub

I’m reading a bunch of books at once. I finished up The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole, an autobiography by Mary Seacole which is mostly about her travels to Panama and the Crimea. In the 1850s during the Crimean War she was a nurse and kept a field hospital. She tried to join up with Florence Nightingale’s effort but was rejected for what sound like racist reasons. I enjoyed her memoirs, especially her entrepreneurial spirit. She’d go pretty much anywhere, and with a little capital would set up a boarding house or hotel and store, and would naturally turn into the community’s medical care. It is a bit awful to imagine what cholera must have been like, especially under the doctoring philosophy of being given violent emetics. Ew. I looked up cholera on Wikipedia and elsewhere to find that you can pretty much survive cholera if you just stay as hydrated as you can.

Meanwhile I read a bunch of Robin Hobb “Assassin” series books on Zond-7’s iPod Touch with the Kindle reader app. Another fantasy series about an assassin! And a bastard! I thought of the “Lens of the World” series and also of Curse of Chalion. Actually, I expected not to like the first book from its first chapter, which piled fake-medievally world stereotype upon stereotype, with characters named Verity and Chivalry and Shrewd. Then the decent writing and fast moving plot completely sucked me in. The guy who takes care of the young assassin bastard, the stable master, was just a great character, a flawed unhappy guy doing his duty… And then the assassin guy himself, who doesn’t know his own name till halfway through the book and nearly an adult, grows and changes over the course of the stories and isn’t really that much of a hero either. I have criticisms and complaints about the Plot Device magic powers but mostly I could let that go and enjoy the story. Any deeper criticism I would need to do with the book in hand & a lot of quoting from it.

Somehow, I ended up reading a book called Mulengro by Charles De Lint. How did it even get into my house? Was it a present? Did someone recommend it? It’s awfully boring. The characters bore the daylights out of me. They appear in vignettes and I utterly don’t care about them and then they get disembowelled by the Bad Super Magic Romany Dude/Spirit Who Was Traumatized By Nazis. Now it is not like I know jack about anything Romani. Other than, that I spent half a year tutoring an 8 year old kid to read somewhat against the wishes of his family – I was working as a tutor, and from what I could tell he didn’t go to school but there was some legal trouble *and* someone in the family *did* want him to learn to read and so, twice a week tutoring. We would have long discussions over why it might be pointless to learn to read (his view, reinforced by his uncles) and why it might be okay and in fact useful (my view, and his grandmother’s; but it was interesting to hear his reasons.) I’m slogging through the book to see if there is any point. So, my question is for you all, is there any point? Am I just reading the wrong De Lint novel? Should I try another one?

I really liked reading on the iPod, way more than I thought I would. Flipping pages was effortless. The reading experience was so seamless that I kept putting it down, then looking around for the physical book to pick it up again, then remembering there WAS NO BOOK.

It is easier to wash your hair while reading on an iPod than to do it while holding a regular book; just riskier. True!
I re-did my purple hair dye tonight half while not looking and reading Mulengro, which is now more like Purplengro. Then I realized that I was wearing a white shirt which I had to take off over my head. FAIL! Good thing I don’t mind.

6 Responses to “New improved! books in the bathtub”

  1. Liz

    Mulengro by Charles De Lint didn’t I give you a bag of books? I know I had it and now I don’t.

  2. Lyssa

    Some of the De Lint books are pretty good, but a lot of them feel like you’re reading the same book over. I think I liked Moonheart the most.

  3. Russell

    I think the Robin Hobb series gets better as you go on. (It’s three
    trilogies that link together nicely). The quasi-medieval civilization
    becomes only one of a network of interacting cultures.
    She also writes as Megan Lindholm,
    and some of the books under that name are great (e.g., The Reindeer People). I’ve just finished her new unrelated series, which is a parable re-telling the conquest of the native Americans. It is more than a bit preachy, and the main character makes Hamlet look like an action hero, but it has an interesting presentation of an alternate culture. I read about one sentence per paragraph of the boring parts, and it was still tedious until a more interesting second personality takes control.

  4. Pretty Lady

    I tried reading a Charles de Lint book once. I lasted about six minutes. I don’t even remember why I hated it so much–it was just Really Badly Written. Cliche’d and lacking any elements that interested me. It was bad enough that I wouldn’t pick up another one; nobody who writes that badly in print deserves a second chance. You are enormously more patient than I am.

  5. colby

    the onion girl by de lint is quite good 🙂

  6. Cher

    I’ve only liked the DeLint books written for teens. The other ones just annoyed me with stereotypical alterna trope dropping.
    PS- Hi!

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