Books for the Reading

by Lynn Wienck, The Chisholm Trail Bookstore

It’s definitely monsoon season here. The ponds are full; there’s been thunder and lightning. Sometimes the storms are violent and sometimes not. The weather is never very gentle here and usually at extremes.

“Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.”

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

And it rather seems as if water is indeed everywhere. The thick orange clay mud will soon find its way to sidewalks and roads and then stick to boots and shoes. Does anyone wear galoshes any more?

I’m just about over the science fiction marathon that strikes periodically and I’ve reverted to technology, history, art, and biography. Regarding all those home-shelf unread books: I always know there are interesting, available books; they will be ready for me when I’m ready for them.

I’ve started Elie Wiesel’s Night, an autobiographical account of the Holocaust – displacement and concentration camp life. Although first published in 1955, Yiddish, and then revised and published in 1958, French, it was not initially well received: too dark, too ugly, and a reminder of the past. This 2006 edition was a new translation from French to English, by the author’s wife, Marion Wiesel. A little preliminary research revealed dispute over whether the account is a literary tour de force or an historical autobiography. However, the work is powerful and thoughtful and captures the both the fatalistic sense of futility and misplaced optimism in the face of brutality and dehumanization.

The New York Times recently carried a nice special section on Museums (March 15, 2012) with a museum overview including articles and photographs. Although, I didn’t read all the articles, topics such as university libraries and acquisitions provided insight. I think museums are interesting and provide much in the way of cultural and informational perspective. Apparently museums or exhibitions can be on almost any topic – anything at all from history to art and ranging far, far beyond. (For example and not covered in the newspaper, I’ve visited an automotive museum, actually several of them, aircraft museums, and natural history museums which I think are fascinating.) Will I ever get to some museums mentioned in the special section – Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles? Time will tell.

So, clouds, thunder, lightning, rain, sunshine, fog, storms, and back to clouds, thunder, lightning, storms, and rain. Summer, with blistering, scorching heat, will come soon enough.

Books for the Reading

Lynn Wienck, The Chisholm Trail Bookstore

It’s spring here and everything has blossomed into a riot of color. The
redbuds are florescent pink, the lilacs are… lilac. The Bradford pear
merry white blossoms have disappeared. Monsoon season as started, although
there are clear days where turtles can be seen trying to cross narrow,
one-and-a-half lane paved no-shoulder roads.

I’ve been buying science fiction for the reading and it seems I’ve been
purchasing it everywhere: stores and a healthy index figure for the
wonderful world wide web cart. How much and how fast can I push into the
cart? I must say, I do a pretty good job.

John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation is, according to the dust jacket blurb, a
reboot of H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy (with the permission H. Beam Piper’s
literary estate). I liked Little Fuzzy ( and just knew I had it on the
shelf, but it disappeared as soon as I reached for it and probably several
years past. (A comparison would have been nice as I remember none of the
original.) In this version, the protagonist, depicted in shades of gray, is
a prospector who discovers a planetary mother lode of gem about the same
time he discovers a native-world species. The book is a whole lot of fun,
and interesting with a none-too-subtle moral message.

Also into the cart went Metatropolis edited by John Scalzi. This book
consists of five stories by five authors about similarly structured cities
of the future – some of the stories I understand, some not. Curious about
the prefix, meta, I got such terms as “beyond” or “about” or “later stage”
when I went researching. The same terminology links each tale. The message
seems to be that cities are born, cities die, cities evolve. Still, I find
it a little difficult to wrap my head around the city of the future, however
that city is envisioned, when the building of the city is the author’s
imagination. I’ve been through these tales twice, but think perhaps another
go is required. I’m starting to “get” it.

I’ve started is Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age. I’m not sure quite what
this is all about, but there are vignettes, small drama everywhere. I’ve
only just started. Extreme poverty and extreme wealth exist side by side.
The book seems to describe a dystopia controlled by major entities;
nanotechnology and I guess you would call it “body sculpting” seem to be
part of the tale. Hey, I’m just along for the ride, however the author spins
it. It’s not my city, not my world, but I’m a visitor, and I’ll have to
learn the vocabulary. However, it’s a rough ride with some frontier justice.

Enough of science fiction cities. The bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush are
in bloom. A ground fog in the early dawn made the open ground by the road
look very mysterious and rather soft gray. The air is warm, mellow, and
slightly humid – it’s spring, spring, spring.