It's possible to be exhausted and happy at the same time, but I think I've discovered new prolongations of each this time around. I got back from OSCON way early this morning — my flight lapsed over into the a.m., but after catching some sleep on the plane and a nap after arriving home I think my clock is about back to normal. I found it funny that Louis Suarez-Potts doesn't believe in jet lag, or so he told me at the con - maybe he's just found a way to cope with it that's so seamless it gets dialed down to near-invisibility?
I didn't manage to visit Powell's — but I did visit the "satellite" stores at PDX, and between that and the Barnes & Noble at the mall directly behind the hotel (shame on me, I know), I came away with a good deal of material that kept me awake on the plane:
- Joseph Mitchell, My Ears Are Bent. I have the feeling Piet would love this book — it's a collection of 1930s-era reportage by the titular author, a time where Chesterfields in the mug, fedoras, endless cups of black coffee and jiggling the phone hook for the operator were the stock-in-trade of reporters all around. Every time I read something like this, I get a grudging nostalgia for rattletrap Underwood typewriters.
- Crime and Punishment. Yes, this old chestnut, but this is a more recent and far more vigorous translation than the one we were force-fed in college. I started reading it without expecting to get past the first few pages and devoured nearly half the book on the plane ride.
- Natsuo Kirino, Grotesque. I still need to write a review of this woman's jaw-rattling Out — that book, like this one, doesn't deserve an easy category like "crime fiction" or even the "feminist noir" label that's been plastered rather . Out was made (badly) into a movie in Japan, and is evidently being re-made domestically in a version that hews closer to the book's original heart-as-black-as-ink of darkness. Grotesque takes a technique only used towards the end of Out — a multiple-POV trick used to fully document an incident in all of its aberrant ugliness — but does it bookwide, and the end result is not gimmicky but chilling as all hell. Kirono's new novel Real World is also on my to-read list.
- Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War. Jury's out for now on whether this is insightful or just tripe-ful. The strategies themselves are not the problem — it's Greene's examples (e.g., Thatcher's administration in Britain being bolstered by her handling of the Falklands campaign) that seem like a case of regressively fitting an interpretation of facts to support his theses. I suspect Greene is a far better student of strategy than history or politics.