rachelmanija: (Heroes: support WGA)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
The "alt-right," aka LITERAL NAZIS like the ones who murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, is planning a protest in Los Angeles this Saturday. Here's what I found when I went looking for a counter-protest. I will be there.

Obviously, this could be dangerous. But I am not letting LITERAL NAZIS march in my city unopposed. Besides, it could be a great opportunity:



Please let me know if you're going, so we can rideshare or try to meet up or something.

Defend Diversity: Fight to Protect Diversity Policies in the Workplace!!

Public · Hosted by Defend Movement and Build the Peoples' Democratic Workers' Party

Saturday at 12 PM - 3:30 PM

340 Main St, Venice, California 90291

rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Dekteon, a slave in fantasyland, escapes and blunders into a strange world between worlds where horses have bear paws and he gets hired by a man who looks just like him to guard him from the terrors of the night. At least, that's the excuse. But it turns out that his new employer has a much more sinister task in mind.

This odd fantasy has some very beautiful, striking images and scenes, and the first fourth or so has a wonderfully spooky, dreamlike atmosphere. Unfortunately, once Dekteon is sent to the matriarchy of cold, bitchy moon women and the sun men they rule, the magic falls away and is replaced by an annoying plot in which he gets the better of the entire society just by being a manly man and not doing what the women say. I'm not objecting just because it's sexist. I'm also objecting because it's dumb and boring.

Not one of Tanith Lee's best. Though I do love the cover, which is 100% accurately taken from the book. A woman with an ivory bow riding a horned lion is what I read fantasy for; wish she was in a better book.

It was part of the MagicQuest series, a fantastic YA fantasy imprint which reprinted (or originally published some?) books by Patricia McKillip, Jane Yolen, Diana Wynne Jones, Peter Dickinson, Robert Westall, Paul Fisher, and Elizabeth Marie Pope. They had great covers and sometimes also great interior illustrations, and I haunted libraries and bookshops for them - all were reliably worth reading, though I liked some more than others. (I never warmed up to Peter Dickinson, and the Pied Piper book was forgettable.) Except for the Westall book, I read all its books for the first time from that imprint; it introduced me to Diana Wynne Jones and Tanith Lee.

I wish the imprint had lasted longer, but it only put out 18 books. Looking them up now, I see that I never saw or even heard of The Last Days of the Edge of the World by Brian Stableford.

Anyone else read MagicQuest? What were your favorites and least favorites?
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Please comment if you've read any of these or others by the same author.

Poll #18676 Oldie Children's Books
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 37


Beginner's Luck, by Oriel Malet. Jenny is sure she'll be a famous ballerina. Victoria is sure she has no talent. James (9) writes a poem: "O venerable is our old Ancestor, to finance our first trip to the theater."

View Answers

Fling
10 (52.6%)

Marry
3 (15.8%)

Kill
6 (31.6%)

Cherry Ames, Army Nurse, by Helen Wells. An entry I haven't read in a series I loved as a kid; a young nurse helps her patients and sometimes also solves mysteries.

View Answers

Fling
11 (52.4%)

Marry
8 (38.1%)

Kill
2 (9.5%)

The Kelpie's Pearls, by Mollie Hunter. "The story of how Morag MacLeod came to be called a witch is a queer one and not at all the sort of thing you would expect to happen nowadays."

View Answers

Fling
15 (60.0%)

Marry
7 (28.0%)

Kill
3 (12.0%)

The Little White Horse, by Eleanor Goudge. When orphaned young Maria Merryweather arrives at Moonacre Manor, she feels as if she's arrived in Paradise.

View Answers

Fling
18 (64.3%)

Marry
8 (28.6%)

Kill
2 (7.1%)

The Magic Book, by Willo Davis Roberts. Apparently the only other sff novel by the author of "The Girl With the Silver Eyes," an old favorite of mine.

View Answers

Fling
13 (59.1%)

Marry
9 (40.9%)

Kill
0 (0.0%)

Otto of the Silver Hand, written and illustrated by Howard Pyle. A historical adventure by the author of fairy tales I used to love as a kid.

View Answers

Fling
9 (47.4%)

Marry
8 (42.1%)

Kill
2 (10.5%)

The Time of the Kraken, by Jay Williams. Thorgeir Redhair must go on a quest to save his people from the kraken, since they're too busy fighting another tribe to do anything useful. By the author of my old favorite, "The Hero From Otherwhere."

View Answers

Fling
12 (60.0%)

Marry
5 (25.0%)

Kill
3 (15.0%)

We Rode to the Sea, by Christine Pullein-Thompson. Horse story by an author of other horse stories I liked as a kid.

View Answers

Fling
13 (65.0%)

Marry
4 (20.0%)

Kill
3 (15.0%)

The Last Enemy, by Richard Hillary

Aug. 8th, 2017 11:29 am
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
The memoir of a WWII fighter pilot who was shot down, badly burned, had his face and hands reconstructed, and then somehow managed to finagle his way back into being a pilot, where he was promptly killed in a training accident (I really hope not because he was, in fact, no longer fit to fly); this book came out three months before his death, so at least he got to see it published.

The excerpt I copied in my last post exemplifies the best parts of the book, which are the chapters on flying, pilot training, and recovery. (There's less on the culture surrounding his recovery (The Guinea Pig Club) than I'd hoped, possibly because he wasn't in the hospital anywhere near as long as many people were.) A lot of the memoir is devoted to philosophical conversations and musings which I found less interesting, chronicling how Hillary went from seeing war and life as something purely a matter of individual striving and enjoyment to also having a moral dimension, and from seeing himself as something of a detached observer to being connected with all humankind. The last chapter, in which he has an encounter with a woman he digs out of a collapsed house, brings together the perfectly observed details of the chapters on flying and fighting with larger issues.

Hillary was a sharp observer with a great prose style and an understated/dark sense of humor. He wasn't a pilot who wrote one book because he had an extraordinary experience he wanted to record, he was a writer who was also a pilot. I wonder if he'd have gone on to be a noted writer if he'd survived, or a minor writer whose books a handful of people really like. If the latter, I would very probably have been in that handful.

An unhappy Amazon reviewer remarks, "Too English," and it is indeed incredibly English in a very specific way, but I grew up reading books like that and for all the flaws inherent in that very specific (colonialist, among other things) outlook, I love the style.

A number of writers (J. R. R. Tolkien and Neil Gaiman, just off the top of my head) have imagined that artists continue their work in the afterlife, creating great libraries of books unwritten in life. It's the heaven I'd most like to have actually exist.

99 cent ebook on Amazon: The Last Enemy
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
From the first chapter of the memoir of a WWII fighter pilot; he has just gone down in flames, and is floating in the ocean, badly burned and alone:

There can be few more futile pastimes than yelling for help alone in the North Sea, with a solitary seagull for company, yet it gave me a certain melancholy satisfaction, for I had once written a short story in which the hero (falling from a liner) had done just this. It was rejected.

99 cent ebook on Amazon: The Last Enemy

A Higher Call, by Adam Makos

Aug. 5th, 2017 11:44 am
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
Nonfiction about a brief but fateful encounter between a German ace fighter pilot and an American bomber crew, in mid-air; forty years later, the two pilots met up again. The book started out as a magazine article, and I bet it was a terrific one. It’s a great story and unlike many WWII stories, this one is about people’s best behavior rather than their worst.

As you may guess from the summary, the actual incident, though amazing, lasted about twenty minutes and is recounted in about ten pages. So most of the book is the story of the German fighter pilot, Franz Stigler, plus a much smaller amount about the American crew. (Stigler was not a Nazi and in fact came from an anti-Nazi family. I know that it would have been convenient for him to claim to have been secretly anti-Nazi after the fact, but given what he was witnessed to have done, I believe it.)

The book is is interesting if you have an interest in the subject matter, but doesn't really rise above that. The best parts, apart from the encounter itself, were the early sections on the culture and training of the German pilots. One detail that struck me (not just that it happened, but that Stigler actually told someone about it), which was that dogfighting was so terrifying that pilots regularly landed with wet pants. I'd heard that about the first time, but not that it wasn't just the first time. Just imagine doing that for months on end. And knowing that you're not likely to do it for years on end because the lifespan of a fighter pilot is probably not that long.

If you just want to know what happened in mid-air over Germany, in December, 1943, click on the cut. Read more... )

Does anyone have any recommendations for other books on pilots, fighters or otherwise, historical or otherwise? I've read Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and really enjoyed the combination of desperate survival narrative with odes to the joy of flight. I think I'd be more interested in memoirs by pilots than biographies about them.

A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II
rachelmanija: (Books: old)
[personal profile] rachelmanija
A memoir by the mother of a teenage girl with anorexia, written with her daughter's consent. (Her daughter is given the pseudonym "Kitty.")

There are a number of memoirs by people with anorexia (by far the best-written is Wasted by Marya Hornbacher, which is worth reading for the prose quality alone), but fewer by their loved ones. But a child with an eating disorder affects and is affected by the whole family.

This book attracted some really angry negative reviews, many of which took very vehement exception to Brown's refusal to take the blame for her daughter's illness, and for her saying that her family became temporarily dysfunctional due to the stress of it, but was doing basically okay before and after. I have no idea whether that's true or not, since all I can go by is the book itself. But I was struck by how pissed off a subsection of readers were at a mother saying, "This wasn't my fault" and "I think my family has good relationships," and how sure they were that this couldn't possibly be the case--that if a child has a mental illness, the mother and her family must be to blame.

Brown thinks the culprit is a combination of genetic predisposition and social pressure. She leans more heavily on the former as a factor in anorexia in general than I personally would, and if her account is correct, it does sound like that played more of a part in her daughter's case than it usually does. From her perspective, anorexia descended on her daughter like the demon in The Exorcist; while Brown herself had some mild issues with eating and weight that could have also affected her daughter, they're the sort of issues that probably 90% of white American moms have, and 90% of all daughters aren't anorexic. She might be in total denial about terrible problems within the family... but she might not be. Being a "good enough" family isn't a magic shield against mental illness.

As a memoir, it's gripping and well-written, and makes a convincing case for the family-based (Maudsley) approach to treating anorexia. (That approach also has very convincing evidence behind it.) But it's the response to it that fascinates me. Like I said, maybe the reviewers are right that she's lying or in denial. Brown does sound a little defensive. But who wouldn't sound defensive if she's constantly getting blamed for the illness that nearly killed her daughter? Could any mother have told her story without being blamed?

Americans are very apt to blame the victim. In every respect. And that goes one million if they're female. Were you raped? It's your fault for going on a date/wearing that dress/trusting your uncle/not buying a state of the art home security system. Do you have anorexia? You're vain/weak-willed/selfish/not really sick. Does your child have anorexia? You're a bad mother.

Brown's unknowable truthfulness or accuracy aside, there is nothing more infuriating to a big section of America than a woman who says, "It wasn't my fault."

Brave Girl Eating: A Family's Struggle with Anorexia

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