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Boo Sickness! Recipe, Word Geeking, Reviews

This not-flu or what­ev­er is exceed­ing­ly tire­some. I should think it would be enough to live with the day to day stuff, let alone put up with this. Then again, nobody has ever claimed in my hear­ing that the world is fair.

MélusineI haven’t suc­ceed­ed in hold­ing any thoughts in my head long, so you’re in for ran­dom­ness again this entry.

I have no idea why the main arti­cle was linked from ZDNet, but does­n’t this ched­dar and apple sand­wich seem yum­my? I won­der how it would be with ham? I used to have a real­ly good recipe for a sausage and apples dish, but I know I haven’t cooked it in the last decade. Maybe I could dig it out of my ancient recipe box? There are few ways to go wrong with cooked apples, as far as I can tell.

The VirtuSam, Katie and I found our­selves dis­cussing the prop­er use of “bring” and “take” this evening. I found this site’s list of com­mon errors in Eng­lish usage the last time the sub­ject came up, in a gram­mar class (intend­ed for writ­ers and edi­tors) I took at South­ern Poly.1 My pro­fes­sor, who was also my advis­er, took great plea­sure in explain­ing that the site is exceed­ing­ly pre­scrip­tivist. I had to go read more on the sub­ject, but I think I’m pret­ty com­fort­able in embrac­ing my iden­ti­ty now. Yes, I tend to be very pre­scrip­tive, gram­mat­i­cal­ly.

I fin­ished read­ing the third vol­ume of Sarah Mon­et­te’s Doc­trine of Labyrinths series, The Mirador last night, then read her anthol­o­gy The Bone Key today.

The MiradorThe Mirador deserves a far bet­ter review than I’m up to at the moment, although it real­ly was­n’t quite up to the expec­ta­tions set in the ear­li­er vol­umes. I thought it would be the last, but there’s anoth­er book in the works, accord­ing to Mon­et­te’s site. This entry was every bit as well-writ­ten and clever as the oth­ers, and I remain intrigued by the intri­cate world. There was­n’t real­ly a huge plot in this book, though. Things hap­pened, and old mys­ter­ies were solved, but the scale of impor­tance seemed ter­ri­bly lim­it­ed this time around. I like the char­ac­ters and world enough that I kept read­ing, but if I had­n’t already come to know them in the ear­li­er books, I don’t know if I would have. The absence of sig­nif­i­cant female char­ac­ters, oth­er than com­plex Mehita­bel, is also some­what unset­tling. It will be inter­est­ing to see where she goes in Coram­bis, but it isn’t sched­uled for pub­li­ca­tion until 2009.

Archivist Kyle Murchi­son Booth, pro­tag­o­nist of the sto­ries col­lect­ed in The Bone Key, works for the Samuel Math­er Par­ring­ton Muse­um. That insti­tu­tion might well be placed in Arkham, Mass­a­chu­setts, although I don’t believe Mon­ette ever gives the city a name. It’s def­i­nite­ly in New Eng­land, and Boston is men­tioned. In any case, fans of M.R. James and H.P. Love­craft, the duo to whom Mon­ette ded­i­cat­ed the col­lec­tion, should be pleased with these sto­ries. They were ter­ri­bly unset­tling, as hor­ror should be. I’m real­ly not a fan of hor­ror, but kept read­ing because the writ­ing was so very good! One of the sto­ries is up on her web site if you’d like a sam­ple: Wait for Me. I have to say that “Ele­gy for a Demon Lover” was prob­a­bly my favorite of these sto­ries, if only because it con­tains the only real expres­sion of love in the book.

The Bone KeyMon­ette is a writer to stretch your vocab­u­lary, so much so that I final­ly got a notepad to write down new words while read­ing The Bone Key. I did­n’t actu­al­ly stop read­ing to look them up, because I could under­stand them through con­text, but now I wish I had. “Ukas­es” car­ries so much more freight than “orders” would have! And “megrims,” what an apt word to describe the effects of find­ing one­self sen­si­tive to ghosts and such. I won­der if Hot Springs, Geor­gia fea­tures “chaly­beate” waters? Do you feel dif­fer­ent­ly about a char­ac­ter described as “exoph­thalmic” than you would about one is called “bug-eyed” or “pop-eyed”? Logophil­ia at its finest!

New AmsterdamI’m left won­der­ing about a cou­ple of ref­er­ences, though. In “The Wall of Clouds,” Booth remarks that anoth­er char­ac­ter must have read “Ros­es for Hor­a­tio” after she makes ref­er­ence to Pen­te­cost (as a per­son, not an event). Google gives me no hints as to what that might mean. Is it a Love­craft or James ref­er­ence?

In the Doc­trine of Labyrinths, “tar­quin” is used repeat­ed­ly to refer to sex­u­al sadists, with “mar­tyr” used for masochists. I can’t seem to find ref­er­ence to that usage else­where. Is it com­mon? The only Tar­quins I can find are two Etr­uscans who were kings of Rome (Lucius Tar­quinius Priscus, the fifth king, and his son Lucius Tar­quinius Super­bus, the sev­enth and last king) and Sex­tus Tar­quinius (Super­bus’ son) who was immor­tal­ized in Shake­speare’s The Rape of Lucrece. The fam­i­ly was orig­i­nal­ly from Tar­quinia, but I don’t find any imme­di­ate ref­er­ence to sadis­tic prac­tices there. Rape is sadis­tic, but, well, I have a ter­ri­ble squick fac­tor think­ing that Mon­ette used the name of a rapist to por­tray the part some­one takes in con­sen­su­al activ­i­ty. Of course, there’s a lot of bag­gage asso­ci­at­ed with “mar­tyr,” too. Any­body have hints for me? Ref­er­ences to oth­er uses of Tar­quin in this sense? A clue bat?

A Companion to WolvesNow I’m on to anoth­er anthol­o­gy of relat­ed sto­ries, New Ams­ter­dam by Eliz­a­beth Bear. I found Bear because I was look­ing for more books by Mon­ette, and they wrote a book togeth­er, A Com­pan­ion to Wolves. Yes, that one’s on my shelf of library booty, but my hand hap­pened to hit New Ams­ter­dam first. Maybe I need­ed some steam­punk in my life.


1 I hat­ed hav­ing to drop that course. It was one of my favorites. Yes. I know that I’m odd.

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