umadoshi: (nonfictional feeling (oraclegreen))
[personal profile] umadoshi
(I tried to make this post more cohesive than it is. I really did! Pretend it worked?)

At last, I know what a childhood of X-Men reading prepared me for: coping with the severe cognitive dissonance when different components of/perspectives on a fictional world are staggeringly different from each other in tone.

Except that, where X-Men (and similar) comics have passed through countless creative teams over several decades (and are a big enough thing to have all kinds of quirky sideline projects), in this case, said staggeringly-different aspects are written by the same person.

I'm now mostly caught up on K.B. Spangler's work in the A Girl and Her Fed (AGAHF) universe, which consists of the ongoing A Girl and Her Fed webcomic and five novels (so far), one of which is Not Like The Others. Oh, and the first of a planned series of novellas cheerfully (and accurately) codenamed "Joshsmut".

I came at this world...out of order, I guess, in that I started with the novels. I'd heard of the AGAHF comic and had been meaning to read it, but I do better with novels...and I didn't really realize how intertwined the projects are. Here's an io9 review of Digital Divide, the first Rachel Peng novel. (Four of the five novels currently available focus on Rachel.)

(Note: I'd heard of A Girl and Her Fed off and on for at least a few years, and had it on my to-read list before I mentally connected it to the Rachel books, but I never really looked into what it is...even though I always tripped, and still trip, over the title because I always parse it wrong. My instinct is still to read the "fed" as a conjugation of "feed", not as "federal agent", which makes no sense at all. How am I STILL DOING THAT?)

So Rachel was my gateway. Rachel as we meet her is a smart, driven, ex-military federal employee who's working as the liaison between the D.C. police force and her own federal agency, OACET, which is made up entirely of a large group of cyborgs. More specifically, a large group of cyborgs created in a catastrophically flawed project that took some of the best and brightest young civil servants from across the federal government, put chips in their heads, and left them collectively traumatized and disturbingly overpowered.

Emphasis on the "collectively". The (functionally nonexistent) "So You're A Cyborg" manual didn't have a chapter for "Welcome to Your New Hivemind! (Please stop screaming! Everyone can hear you!)"

Rachel's books start several years after all that, and several months after she's joined the above-mentioned police force, for the express purpose of helping to ease the public into the idea that Cyborgs Are People Too!, and super-useful to boot! And guys, I love Rachel dearly, so she was a great gateway for me. I kept going with her books until I discovered that the sole (so far) Hope Blackwell novel is set before Rachel's fourth book, so I opted to both read that book and finally backtrack to read AGAHF...

And it turns out that my X-Men experience is only barely up to this whole experience. cut for length; there's about as much text under here as there is above )

Two things of note:

1) Spangler is in the process of redrawing the first chunk of AGAHF. I don't know when she started doing that, or how quickly it's progressing, but the result is that the first 90-100 strips or so have been redrawn (each one linking to its original version) and have had some dialogue tightened and some plot holes smoothed out, but then you run out of redrawn art and get dropped into the original art style for a while, and it's...well, it's pretty jarring. (Here is the current/redrawn first comic; here is the original version. So you see.)

2) I'm not great at picking up things that call for content notes/warnings, unless they're pretty obvious. But one thing that bothered me, and recurred often enough that I feel like I ought to mention it, is the frequent use of "psychopath" (plus some instances of "sociopath") as a descriptor. briefly expanding on that; not very spoilery )
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
Includes current politics + mental illness, HURRAH.

Read more... )

OKAY THAT WILL DO FOR NOW.

Linkspam Marks Monumental Changes

Aug. 16th, 2017 07:01 pm
jjhunter: a person who waves their hand over a castle tower changes size depending on your perspective (perspective matters)
[personal profile] jjhunter
[tumblr.com profile] elfgrove: [tumblr thread re: @FanSince09 tweet: "How Millennials are killing participation trophies." re: @BNONews: "BREAKING: Protesters tear down Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, where it stood for nearly 100 years"]
Yeah. I said cheap and mass produced. These statues have neither artistic nor historical value. “Why did the statue go down so easy? Many “Lost Cause” era C monuments were mass-produced in the cheapest way possible for mass distribution. There wasn’t even a layer of the most basic mortar holding the pedestal to the base. Gravity was enough for granite. Cheap, tacky crap.

Antonia Noori Farzan @ Phoenix New Times: Activist Turns Confederate Memorial At Arizona Capitol Into Participation Trophy
She immediately got to work crafting two banners that say "2nd Place Participant" and "You lost, get over it."

David Krugler @ the Daily Beast: America's Forgotten Mass Lynching: When 237 People Were Murdered In Arkansas
What made 1919 unique was the armed resistance that black Americans mounted against white mobs trying to keep them “in their place.”

Ken Schwencke @ ProPublica: Service Provider Boots Hate Site Off the Internet
“This is fucking serious. 8/12 changed everything,” tweeted Pax Dickinson, a lead technical voice for the far right, referencing the Charlottesville rally.

Nicholas Fandos, Russell Goldman, & Jess Bidgood @ NYT: Baltimore Mayor Had Statues Removed in ‘Best Interest of My City’
History could not and should not be erased, [Kaylyn Meyers, 29] said, but men like Taney did not belong on a pedestal in a nice public park, either.

[personal profile] siderea: [US] Fwd: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Address of May 19
Starts good, gets great: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's magnificent address of May 19 on the removal of the Confederate monuments from New Orleans. It's 22 minutes long, and, Americans, it's absolutely worth making the time. Beautiful, firey, and uplifting, it's worth hearing it delivered rather than reading a transcript.

3 Good Things

Aug. 16th, 2017 05:14 pm
jjhunter: Watercolor of daisy with blue dots zooming around it like Bohr model electrons (Default)
[personal profile] jjhunter
I've been in a minor funk of executive dysfunction the last few days. Today was better; here are some joys that made it so:

1. I swung by the cobbler's on my lunch break in hopes he might do leather repair other than shoes (the stitching attaching the shoulder strap on my beloved black handbag unexpectedly gave way yesterday). He initially said no, then changed his mind to yes when I showed it to him, and he did a gorgeous restitching job in time for me to pick it up on my way home.

2. The leftover carrot-zucchini cake I made for the friend who runs my D&D group (in honor of his birthday, and last night being the last D&D session of our current arc) was enthuastically devoured by my coworkers.

3. I had chicken dumpling ZOMG-so-much-spinach soup for lunch, and it was good. (I finally made the damn soup Monday night, after two weeks of stressful waffling on when exactly I'd get to it, so to have that done, and to move on to the simple pleasure of enjoying it, is very good indeed).

I'm pretty sure it's impossible for me to get everything I have to get done at work this week before I leave early Friday for a few days of vacation, but I've already managed more than I'd thought I might when pulling a 12hr work day Friday wasn't enough to whittle it down to a reasonable amount.

One day at a time is enough, betimes.

You Still Can't Get There From Here

Aug. 16th, 2017 08:13 pm
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon

Went to the GP's surgery to pick up my repeat prescription this morning.

"Oh, we haven't done that," says the receptionist. "I was trying to get in touch with you yesterday," (the phone never rang) "It's too early"

Me: "Hang on, we're half way through week 3 of a 4 week prescription and I'm going on holiday* tomorrow."

Receptionist: "It's due on the 29th"

Me: "And I'll run out on the 28th"

Her: "And we'd fill it that week. When did you say you were going on holiday?"

Me: "Tomorrow. In the morning"

Her: {wince}

She then proposed getting it signed off during the afternoon and me coming back for it (they theoretically shut at noon on Wednesday, and it was after 11:30), but then changed her mind, her terminal must have flagged the doctor was free, and walked it through there and then.

It's never been this complicated before!

Just to make things even more fun, I'd taken crutches rather than the chair and started to feel very wobbly in the middle of all of this. Hopefully just lack of sleep, I crashed when I got home and has to go to bed for a couple of hours. Which meant I didn't get around to going to the chemists til late afternoon. It's a straight roll down a slight incline from where I park, which is just as well as my pushing was pretty crap today.  I suspect my shoulders aren't entirely happy after the shed re-roofing, plus my tyres needed blowing up. Getting the prescription was trouble-free, but pushing back up the slope wasn't going to happen, so I got out and used the chair as a walker. That wouldn't have been a problem if my legs hadn't decided to go very wobbly in the middle of the damned road! Fortunately with no cars about.

*Headdesk*

* Up to see the folks, Dad turns 80 on Saturday, so expect my presence to be intermittent for the rest of the month.


 

 

umadoshi: (mermaid 02)
[personal profile] umadoshi
Over the course of the day [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose and I managed to get our wires throughly crossed twice regarding the same thing. It stressed me out horribly, and then I felt bad about that, because he was only involved at all because he was giving me and a friend a hand with something. ;_; But AAAAAHHHH, so stressful.

But that notwithstanding, we got some erranding done and had dinner and saw Atomic Blonde with lawyer!friend, who we hadn't seen in...a month or two? (I can't even with time.) So the day wasn't a wash, just frazzling. ("Just". -_-)

(I didn't know until the opening credits that Atomic Blonde is adapted from Antony Johnston's graphic novel The Coldest City, which I'm wholly unfamiliar with, so I have no idea how faithful to it the movie is.)

Three Amazon-related things, weirdly (and very tangentially, in the third case):

--Question: if you have a trial Amazon Prime account and preorder something that won't come out until the trial ends, and you don't opt to keep Prime, do you then pay for shipping when the item is released and ships to you? Or is it still the free/quick Prime shipping because of when you ordered it?


--I don't know if I'm more confused by Amazon's insistence on sending a separate email for every order represented in a package when they bundle items from multiple orders together, or by the fact that the emails don't all come at once. Did I really need four email notifications about one package? And why did it take over ten minutes for them all to arrive, start to finish? (Don't try to answer the "why they don't all come at once" part; I'm sure there's a technical reason, but that doesn't/won't change my feeling that it's silly for them to not arrive all at once.)


--And finally, Sarah Rees Brennan's In Other Lands (the polished/expanded novel version of The Turn of the Story, which she serialized online and which I love fiercely) is out today! It's a BOOK! A book I'll be able to hold in my hands! With mermaids on the cover! It's been fleshed out/revised and edited, and we'll get the ending from Elliot's perspective! (The Turn of the Story is from Elliot's POV, but its original ending was actually written before TotS and is a story in the Monstrous Affections anthology, and is from Luke's POV.)

...and for whatever reason, at least on Amazon.ca and Chapters.ca, the hard copy of the book is still slated to release on August 25. >.< I have a preorder of it via Kas' Prime account, as does Ginny. But the ebook version is already available for both Kindle and Kobo, and the book is officially out today in general...so I think I'm going to cave and buy an ebook copy too, so I can read it.

Here's Sarah's release-day post! The book has received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers’ Weekly, and Sarah says "Bullied due to his personality! Inability to keep his mouth shut! I love how the reviews so far have been like: the hero is a terrible pill, but we are willing to buy this pill and take him home."

And here is Small Beer Press' post about the book's release, which opens with "Five years ago Sarah Rees Brennan emailed Kelly her story, “Wings in the Morning,” for our anthology Monstrous Affections. It was long: 17,000+ words in that early draft — although Sarah told us the actual first draft had been 30,000 words".

So you see, I've both already read and not read this book. I already adore it; I also, unsurprisingly, have a corner of my heart saying "but...but this means the story I already love is changed...?" and worrying a bit. But mostly I'm thrilled about it finally being a BOOK I can HOLD. And did I mention the mermaids? (I did.) Elliot, for all his brattiness and lack of enchantment with the magical place in which he goes to school, is appropriately entranced by and appreciative of mermaids.

Serene! Luke! ELLIOT! My heart...!

[food] Clafoutis/flaugnarde

Aug. 15th, 2017 09:40 am
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
On Sunday I conned Adam into going blackberry picking with me (it's a bit more complicated than that, but the short version is he hadn't realised how much more tedious and unpleasant it is to pick wild blackberries than it is to pick pick-your-own strawberries), so we've got a large tub of blackberries that I'm gradually turning into beverages/desserts/etc. We also had the end of a pound-a-bowl bag of blueberries from the market, and I have been meaning to try clafoutis for years, so! Lightly adapted from River Cottage.

Read more... )

You Can't Get There From Here

Aug. 14th, 2017 10:35 pm
davidgillon: Text: I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, you don't know where it's been. (Don't put your hand inside the manticore)
[personal profile] davidgillon

Last Month:

GPs' surgery: Hey, sign up for online appointments and repeat prescriptions.*
Me: Okay

Saturday:

Try to use it for a repeat prescription for the first time
System: You have no repeat prescriptions available.

Today:

Me: Hi, I tried to get a repeat prescription and it wouldn't have it.
Surgery: Ah, that's because it's a controlled drug and the system doesn't handle those.

It's the only bloody prescription I have! Talk about being as much use as a chocolate teapot!!


* That was the occasion when the receptionist took one look at my handwriting and decided to fill in the form for me.

(no subject)

Aug. 14th, 2017 06:27 pm
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] kaberett
1. HOUSE HOUSE HOUSE HOUSE HOUSE. CONTRACT SIGNED. START DATE FIRST OF SEPTEMBER. \o/

2. [tumblr.com profile] kaberett continues explicitly Things That Make Me Happy, all the time, no politics. [tumblr.com profile] kaberabbits continues... all the rabbits, all the time. In case this is relevant to your interests. (Anything political would go on [tumblr.com profile] kaberants, but I just... Haven't Been.)
umadoshi: (Newsflesh - check this out (kasmir))
[personal profile] umadoshi
Fannish/Geeky Things

This link about Carrie Fisher and The Last Jedi was making the rounds on Twitter largely because of the story Oscar Isaac tells about her at the end of the article.

The Hugo nomination stats are out (along with other statistics), so naturally I checked the Best Series category, where I found Newsflesh in the list of top nominees, appearing on 85 ballots. (The category header indicates that there were 1393 votes for 291 nominees.) The Toby books, which did make it onto the final ballot, were on 129 nominating ballots.

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] sovay, look at Philip Odango's marvelous cosplay of Maui from Moana.

"Dean Winchester and Commander Shepard Walk Into A Bar: Why Fanon Matters". [Alasdair Stuart at Uncanny Magazine]


Social Justice

"Women Are Dying Because Doctors Treat Us Like Men: For years, physicians have referred to women's healthcare as 'bikini medicine' and assumed they can diagnose and treat both genders the same way. But it's costing women their lives". [Marie Claire]

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] wendelah1, "41 Things You Should Know About Abortions And The Doctors Who Perform Them". [Buzzfeed]

"Ready to Ditch White Feminism? Here Are 6 Black Feminist Concepts You Need to Know".

"Battery Theory: For when the Spoon Theory is too confusing".

"Accessibility [of the web] according to actual people with disabilities".

"Are men talking too much?" is an online tool for tracking who's dominating a conversation. (Relevant info at this Facebook post.)

"A post for men about creepy men".

"The Sugarcoated Language Of White Fragility". [July 2016] (Uses Trump as an illustration, FYI.)


Miscellaneous

Via a post on [dreamwidth.org profile] wotd (Word of the Day), The Phrontistery dedicates itself to "obscure words and vocabulary resources". It includes lists of lost words, obscure words, word lists by topic, short words for Scrabble purposes...many things! I've barely scratched the surface.

"Finding Dory Writer and Hamilton Director to Tell the Story of the U.S. Military’s First Female Pilots". [The Mary Sue]

Via [locked], "Gratitude Lists Are B.S. — It Was an 'Ingratitude' List That Saved Me".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] jimhines, "Incredible Bonsai Trees Made Of 1000s Of Miniature Origami Cranes By Naoki Onogawa" and "10+ Badass Trees That Refuse To Die No Matter What".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] klgaffney, "The Lost City That’s Not Lost, Not a City, and Doesn’t Need to Be Discovered".

Eep, saved by eBay!?

Aug. 13th, 2017 08:57 pm
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon
I was lurking with my browser on an ebay page earlier, waiting to bid on an item at the last minute, when a Windows mail message popped up at the bottom of the screen - eBay warning there'd been unauthorised access to my account*, so they'd blocked it, reset my password and refunded any charges, plus disconnected my paypal account.

After I'd peeled myself off the ceiling given the untimely coincidence, I checked and yep, I was locked out of my account. Fortunately eBay has resetting your password well automated, so I was able to reset it and log back in again, just in time to see the item I wanted go for a third more than I was prepared to pay - I'm not too upset at losing it, there was a bunch of stuff I already have in the package, and the item I actually wanted, a set of out-of-print wargames rules, will eventually get an ebook version, so I'd restricted my bid to what that will go for when eventually realeased.

I still haven't forgiven eBay for the wheelchair fiasco, but praise where praise is due, they got it right here.

OTOH I may just leave Paypal disconnected for a while (and I'll be paying close attention to my next Paypal statement).


* Definitely not a false-positive misidentification of me, I hadn't done anything yet.
 

 


At what point?

Aug. 13th, 2017 11:03 am
quirkytizzy: (Default)
[personal profile] quirkytizzy
At what point do things like "showering" and "scooping out the litterboxes" stop counting as accomplishments? At what point do those become "given" parts of your day and the only accomplishments that count are things like getting a job (or setting up volunteer work, in my case, which is causing undue anxiety) or writing a book or something of a LARGER nature?

Cuz I took another look at Maslow's damned triangle and I realized I am trying to fix the top three items while the first two (basics such as food and shelter and the ability to be secure about having those needs met) are constantly on the verge of collapsing, which makes me wonder if I'm somehow going about this whole thing backwards...

Mishmash post before I do some work

Aug. 12th, 2017 02:27 pm
umadoshi: (Tori "freedom" (strangelittlex))
[personal profile] umadoshi
Revoltingly humid today--the kind of day where I'll be so glad to hit the shower, but am also kind of dreading it because getting out of the shower will feel so gross within seconds and the whole thing will feel pointless by the time I'm dressed. >.< (I'm really not good with sweat and stickiness. Why are bodies?)

This weekend I'm on once-a-day cat-feeding duty for friends who live maybe ten minutes away on foot, which is very convenient, but since it's evening feeding, it's too early for me to go and come back and be done for the day (and done being rained on, if that happens). *wry* I'm a procrastinator in many ways, but in terms of concrete things that have to be done on a given day, I usually lean towards getting them out of the way promptly, so a corner of my brain keeps perking up and thinking, "Oh! I could head over there now and be done--wait, no."

I need to post about K.B. Spangler's books/webcomic, and I even have some notes jotted down, but haven't managed to turn those notes into anything yet. (Technically her work all falls under the "A Girl and Her Fed universe" banner--AGAHF being the webcomic, which came first and I suspect is the best-known part?--but since I started with the novels, most of which are about Rachel Peng, who isn't even in the first act of AGAHF, I find myself defaulting to labeling it all as Rachel-related in my head.)

Anyway, I've read almost everything at this point, except that I haven't started the second act of the comic yet, and there are also some bonus comics or something available as pdfs in Spangler's online store, which I should pick up. So in theory, a proper post on it should happen any day now.

--For those who haven't heard, [dreamwidth.org profile] seanan_mcguire won the Best Novella Hugo for Every Heart a Doorway!

--There's a second track available from the upcoming Tori Amos album: "Up the Creek".

--My brain doesn't feel like it even has the memory of how to write fiction. Thanks, brain.

--I'm now three (3) whole episodes into Black Sails. I'm not remotely in love, but I gather very few people are at this point; that said, those three episodes haven't been as bad as I was afraid of. (That said, they've depicted several commonly-triggery things. But I went in expecting that, and am fortunate enough to not have any actual triggers myself.)

--This day is not conducive to staying awake, but Monday's deadline is fast approaching. And in the next month or so I'm hoping to get ahead on my freelance work, in case Casual Job starts up for the fall before September ends...and I just acquired some bonus prose proofreading work to do by the end of September, too. (Yay!)

I Are Roofer

Aug. 12th, 2017 05:30 pm
davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)
[personal profile] davidgillon
Shed roof succesfully re-felted. I've waited pretty much a month for a day that was both dry and largely wind free.

While standing at the top of a ladder isn't ideal for a wheelchair user, it actually went fairly simply and I was done in a couple of hours. There's some finishing to do, but nothing urgent, and all the up a ladder stuff is done.

I suspect my neck isn't going to be happy later, but for now I'm rewarding myself with beer.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
[personal profile] quirkytizzy
It's Cracked, so there's a few dick jokes in there for levity.

I do not have OCD, nor do my intrusive thoughts involve hurting other people. Still, having logged plenty of man-hours wrestling down intrusive thoughts of harm to myself, this article and the comments were not only interesting, but seriously useful.

Also brought up in the article, co-morbidity (i.e - presenting with multiple illnesses), as I've been - despite my chagrin, correctly - re-diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. (You had it right, Matrixx!)

Treatment lays mostly in learning how to redirect your thoughts and feelings v.s your actions. Really good things to add to the treatment I'm already on. I am not unaware of these concepts, but it's like I totally forgot them.

Thus the whole HOLYSHIT THESE COMMENTS!!!

*****

"The brain does not register negatives; it only processes the action associated with the negative. If, instead of saying, "don't think that," you say, "think this instead," you can weaken the neuronal connections responsible for the OCD and strengthen others at your will."

******

"You are not your thoughts; you are your reaction to them."

*****

"It's not necessarily the thought that is the problem, it's how much meaning and weight we ascribe to it that can cause anxiety or worsening intrusive thoughts."

*****

"That is what obsession is. The never ending stream of thoughts, good or bad.

The ones you notice, quite simply, are the ones that trigger anxiety. You zero in on them, instead of pushing them aside. You will examine every single instance of behavior or cognition that might relate to that particular thought in an attempt to find an answer because that seems like the only way to make it go away.

But here's the thing. f**k the thoughts. They will not go away. What you can control, however, is your emotional response. How you do that is up to you. But what you have to do is find a way to tackle the anxiety because beyond a point the deconstruction going on in your head will cross into the absurd and that, my friend, is where madness lies."

****

"She [my therapist] made the analogy of a wheel moving back and forth until it created a rut which it couldn't get out of."

*****

"If you keep performing the ritual, you reinforce the belief that the ritual is preventing catastrophe, instead of teaching yourself that nothing bad will happen if you don't do it.


******

All this on a day when my therapist asked me what life would be like without Nightmare Week. "I don't know," I replied casually. "They're nightmares. They come and go as they please. I can't choose what I dream."

She suggested that it was possible to remove the nightmares, to wiggle free from this last bit of PTSD.

I call bullshit....but the idea is intriguing. So okay, Miss Therapist, let's see what you've got to suggest and I'll give it my best shot. Worst case scenario? I still have nightmares but have learned a few tricks to deal with my thoughts in a healthy, non-destructive manner.

**NOTE FOR SELF: Also must look up term "neural plasticity", as my therapist put it. It might apply.

*Also must find ways to work some dick jokes into all this.
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon
Oh, this is so unfortunately classic American abroad that it would be cliche, but for Bannon being Trump's racist-in-chief:

The Intercept has looked into an story Steve Bannon tells about recognising the Muslim 'threat' when his ship docked in Karachi when he was in the USN.

Just one problem, the other details he gives, and the ship's cruise book, show that they were actually docked in Hong Kong.  All those Muslim hordes that haunt his dreams? Chinese.

To make things worse, Bannon was the ship's navigator.


Full article here


(no subject)

Aug. 11th, 2017 09:37 am
quirkytizzy: (Default)
[personal profile] quirkytizzy
It's Nightmare Week, the last vestige of PTSD that I regularly have to pay for the abuse of decades past.

Yay. 4 nights of bad dreams down - 3 more to go.

The Runner (Voigt)

Aug. 9th, 2017 09:47 pm
cahn: (Default)
[personal profile] cahn
Oh man, this is a dense book. So many things going on in this one.

One thing I admire so much about all the Tillerman books is the way that the characters are so complex and rfull that they all stand alone. You could read this book without knowing one other bit about the Tillerman family, and it would still be a great book. But it's also in some ways the central book of this series — it shows you where everything else came from.

Theme and motif: several things going on here, at the same time. [personal profile] mildred_of_midgard pointed out the breaking and building motif. Bullet is a breaker; he doesn't build; Patrice also tells him he's not a builder. His brother John is a builder, John says. And Bullet shoots OD, and isn't able to rescue his mother… It's a hard book. But… Bullet, of all three of the Tillerman children of that generation, comes to a point where he accepts his life, which it's not clear the other two have done (they certainly had not come to that point when they left the Tillerman family).

There's also a pronounced racism arc, which interestingly carries over in a big way into Stranger, although it's a completely different thing in Stranger, of course.

There's also a boat again, in a confluence of boat and gift — Patrice makes Bullet a boat, as a gift (Bullet pays him for it, but it really is a gift), and Bullet gives it to Abigail — and that boat gives her a way to separate from her husband (I mean, not literally, more's the pity, but at least to manage that relationship with slightly more grace).

There's no music in this book, except square dancing from the jukebox (which is a very temporary and superficial form of connection, though connection nevertheless), and Bullet's and Abigail's memories of Liza singing, which connect them to her memory and really nothing else (well, maybe Bullet and Abigail to a certain extent). His father has squelched all the music — that which, in this cycle, makes family and found family.

I guess, maybe, the theme is growing up? Identity? This is the only book so far where I feel like it's hard for me to get a handle on it, because it's a book that I think generally sort of defies description. Like Bullet himself. He's described as being alone and separate, a man of bronze, a hero who just happens to be underage at the time. But he's also written as having a really finely-tuned sense of other people in a lot of ways, although completely oblivious and/or flat-out offensive in a lot of other ways. Of course, most people are a combination of those two things (especially in adolescence), but not to the extremes that Bullet's written — quite frankly most of the scenes with Bullet and Abigail in them just completely baffle me, because they understand each other's laconic words and I have no idea what they're talking about. (Please enlighten me! What does Abigail mean when she says Bullet used to have a good sense of humor? What does Bullet mean when Tommy says he thought better of Bullet, and Bullet says, "No, you didn't"? I think the former is just that Bullet hasn't yet had the idea of cooking breakfast for Abigail — and I think the latter is Tommy thinking everyone is just like him, and therefore he didn't think better of Bullet — but I don't know.)

Bullet thinks a lot about boxes, the way we box ourselves in, and his epiphany at the end is that we all are going to have boxes, we just get to choose whether we have boxes that we're comfortable with or not. I think maybe the book really is about the way we choose what limitations we work with, and what we do within those limitations.

But really I don't really know what the book is about. It's about the Vietnam War and the way the fear of the draft permeates everything; it's about race relations (or the lack thereof); it's about running cross-country; it's about how authority perpetuates itself; it's about a kid from an emotionally abusive family who is himself kind of violent; it's about all those things but it's not really about any of them.

Also, wikipedia tells me that in Homecoming James (who Liza was pregnant with, last Frank had heard — about a year ago) is 10 and Maybeth is 9. So you know what happened is that as a result of seeing Bullet in this book ("Frank's mouth drooped down a little at the ends. 'If I had the fare, I'd go up there right now, tonight; I could use a dose of Liza.'" And on the next page: "'I wonder if… do you think Honey'd give me the money to get to Boston?'"), Francis went away and went to visit Liza, who had just had James a couple of months previously, and Maybeth was the result. I… did not realize it was possible to hate him more than I already did, but IN FACT IT IS. Although violence is not my thing I… am kind of cheering Bullet on when he wrecks Honey's car (although to be fair it isn't at all Honey's fault. But still). (ETA 8-12: Um. Yeah. That really sounds like I think violence against innocent people is totally okay... which no. I should have said that I feel a lot of empathy for Bullet, and I do, but "cheering" is a bit much, yeah. Thanks mildred.)
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You'll never have to worry that if you have to cancel plans, they will be terribly offended, disappointed, or will question the validity and depth of your friendship.

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Kathleen Jowitt

April 2015

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