PICTURE THIS: you are in a ship, headed for Antarctica ("this again?!" yes.) you aren't sure how close you are to the coldest continent, and you look up and notice something weird. The cloud cover seems to get oddly bright up ahead of you, illuminated more than the clouds directly above you. What could it mean??? SURPRISE: it's land blink, you're almost there. Since the light is reflecting off of snow instead of the wine-dark sea, the clouds are brighter above land than above ocean. Land Blink. It's science. It's also some knowledge which you may never need again UNLESS: You get your hot little paws on a copy of At the Mountains of Madness / HP Lovecraft.

   If you haven't read any Lovecraft, you are missing out. I'd been meaning to read something of his for a long time, and was made more determined when I started listening to Welcome to Nightvale (soooo goooood) and heard that it draws some inspiration from good ol' HP. I can tell you unequivocally: HP Lovecraft, like Wolverine, is the best at what he does. HP, where have you been all these years? Sweet mystery of life, at last I've found thee.

   OKAY: here's the sitch: it's the early/mid 1900's and peeps are wanting to head down to Antarctica and go exploring, ostensibly for king and country, and William Dyer is all "aw hellz no" because when he was there with some geologists and his pal Danforth, some craaaaazy stuff went down and he says Antarctica is an eon dead home of horror and the book is a tell-all of his experiences there. He's all "of course you will have heard of our mission, but now I will tell you the shocking truth, believe me, it'll drive you batty, just look at that nutso Danforth" (may or may not be a paraphrase). Also: here be monsters.

   Nothing in this story is benign. They find some odd rocks and I was all "this will not end well". Then they find some remarkably well-preserved THINGS and I was all "this will really not end well". This effect is partially produced by our narrator Dyer constantly referring to how they lied when they reported things that happened and how many times he calls Antarctica "eon dead" and how HP Lovecraft is a SINISTER WIZARD.

   Friends, I didn't even know this book was set in Antarctica. OMGosh, I love Antarctica. AND HP Lovecraft DEFINITELY mentions not only my present fave Douglas Mawson BUT ALSO everyone's other faves: Ernest Shackleton, Roald Amundsen, and that ill-prepared dunce, Robert Falcon Scott. Ponies, Robert?? PONIES?!?! I mean COME ON. Also: you thought you could beat this guy?????

Roald don`t give a care
    Don`t even get me started.


two reviews

The Haunting of Hill House / Shirley Jackson

   From the powerhouse that brought us We Have Always Lived in the Castle comes this chilling number, and it is spooksville from start to finish. If I were to describe it in two words, they would be "mounting terror".  (Fun fact: did you know that "terror" and "horror" are related but quite different? Essentially, terror is a dread of something coming, and horror is a mix of disgust and shock plus dread of/for/at something that has already happened. Horror comes after terror. Words! Who knew.) The spookiest part isn't even the ghostly activity, it's how one of the the characters goes completely crazy. She seems pretty normal at first AND THEN: it hits.

   Shirley Jackson makes an art out of creating tension, let me tell you.You know those times when you're going up the stairs and it's dark behind you and all of a sudden your brain decides that something is about to grab your ankle (this can't be just me)? WELL take that weird dread and consternation and spread it in increasing thickness over this book and voila: you now have an idea of what it will feel like to read it.

The Virgin Suicides / Jeffrey Eugenides

   We all know that a book with a smashing first line is proooobably going to be a winner. And oh boy, The Virgin Suicides does not pull any punches:
 "On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide – it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese – the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope."
   And with that: you're stuck. I was considering not even writing about this book because of the subject matter. Let's be clear: there are seven suicide attempts, and five completions. The narrators are very matter-of-fact, and they don't leave anything out. After the youngest Lisbon girl dies, the family descends further and further into despair and shock, and they all deal with it in inadequate ways. They shut up their house, stop going to school, one turns to sex, they set up a shrine to Cecilia, and, finally, the girls all commit suicide and leave their parents to sort out the debris.

   This book is haunting. It's written as a report from the now grown-up neighbourhood boys who were fascinated by the Lisbon girls. They're old enough to be balding, but their lives are still, understandably, defined by the events of one year in their teens.

   I don't even know what to say. I don't know if you should read this or not. The writing is impeccable.

* * * * * 

   On a lighter note: did you guess the movies from a bit ago??? Here they are:
  1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
  2. Sahara (2005)
  3. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
  4. The Invasion (2007) 
  5. The Lego Movie (2014)
   I don't have to tell you how fantastic Ferris Bueller's Day Off is, or so I hope because if I did then you are missing out on a MASTERPIECE. Speaking of masterpieces, Sweet Smell of Success is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It's about a journalist who ruins people's lives. I KNOW. Get thee to a video store. Sahara is one of those movies I can't help but love; it is full of very convenient coincidences and  implausible fight scenes but, in this case, I care not. If you are looking for a good Valentine's Day movie then may I recommend The Invasion (premise: an alien virus comes to earth and makes it so people CAN'T FEEL EMOTION, it's hilarious [it doesn't mean to be hilarious, it wants to be serious, which makes the hilarity EVEN BETTER {also be prepared for some great lines from Ms Kidman}]) Annnnd everyone and their dog knows about The Lego Movie so I am SIGNING OFF, hasta la vista (howwwww is that spelled?).


travel time

   Hello world, I am writing to you from the thriving metropolis of Vancouver, British Columbia (fun fact: I was listening to an American podcast and they said "is British Columbia in Canada?" To clear things up: yes it is.) and guess who did not pack enough books for this trip. IT WAS ME. Pull yourself TOGETHER. Worse still: no headphones=no audiobooks on the plane tomorrow. What have I become, my sweetest friend??? 

   Here's hoping my feckless iphone battery will hold out long enough to provide me with some Adventures of Sherlock Homes and/or Karl Marx throughout the day. 

   Take it from me: if you are packing and you say to yourself "best to bring two books, welllll, books are SO HUGE I will only bring one" DON'T GIVE IN, books are not that large. You need two. TAKE TWO. FOR GOODNESS SAKE TAKE TWO. I thought I was getting better at this; turns out I was wrong. 



   Guaranteed, Robert Neville is having a far worse day than you are. Imagine some blistering monotony with mortal danger thrown in and you have I Am Legend / Richard Matheson. (Does that make it sound like I didn't enjoy it? WELL I DID.) Someone somewhere compared this book to The Road / Cormac McCarthy and I'm inclined to agree. Different interpretations of a post-apocalyptic world, but both tremendously bleak. While reading, you may or may not find yourself saying "wow, life really is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". Once you get there mentally, you and Robert Neville will be on the same page (see what I did there) and you can carry on your merry way. By "your merry way" I clearly mean "your lonely, survivalist, vampire-hunting way".

   But wait! If we're comparing I Am Legend to The Road, then isn't Robert Neville carrying the fire? How can his life signify nothing? Also: the title of the book is "I Am Legend" and as we all know, legends have got to go beyond being full of sound and fury. Depends on what you mean by carrying the fire, and depends on what you mean by "legend", "sound", and "fury". You will have to read to find out.

   An aside: are you catching the references I'm making? I'm assuming you are but if not: go read The Road (which you should have done long ago. Come on.) and go read act 5 scene 5 of The Scottish Play (which also: why haven't you read yet). UGH FINE, I'll put the wee soliloquy here:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.
(M------, act 5, scene 5, lines 17-28)

   So good. Also: a perfect companion to I Am Legend. (If I'm not careful, this post will turn into me recommending bits of Shakespeare to you.)

   So! Robert Neville is the last fully-human person in LA, and possibly the whole world. He is, naturally, rather upset by this. You'll notice I said last FULLY-human and that is because of VAMPIRES. Before you stop reading this post in utter disgust: these vampires don't sparkle or seduce teenage girls. Yay! They are regular ol' bloodthirsty, evil, night-dwelling baddies, thank goodness. (Vampires: something hipsters can't ruin because they are ALREADY DECIMATED. [fun fact: the word "decimated" means "one tenth destroyed" and comes from a practice in the Roman army where, as a severe punishment, the legion would be lined up and one out of every ten men would be executed.{oh my gosh, Glynis, quit it with the "interesting asides"}])

   Robert Neville is out staking vamps every day, and he is going nuuuuts. He is also trying to find a cure, but it is frustrating because science is hard. That's not a joke, actually, science really is hard especially when it is basically molecular biology and you used to work in some sort of factory, not in any sort of science-related field. A bunch of stuff goes down which I can't tell you, as I don't wish to spoil the book for you. In case you're worried: I read the synopsis of the movie and beyond the premise of one man left with a city full of vamps it is pretty much an entirely different story.I haven't seen the movie but I do recommend the book. It's spooky, creepy, bleak, and weirdly hopeful at the end.


on the go

   It's a disease.

   Here are a few of the books that are currently vying for my attention. I say "a few" because if I were to list every book I have started and not finished, we'd be here all year. 
  • HHhH / Laurent Binet - a book about Reinhard Heydrich is going to take a long time to read no matter what. It's difficult to read about his early life when you know he went on to come up with the Final Solution.
  • I Am Legend / Richard Matheson - one of the audiobooks I've currently got on my phone. I feel like I don't need to explain this one, everyone's heard of it by now. It's spooky.
  • Drunk Tank Pink / Adam Atler - this one is interesting but scattered and I like some structure in my non-fiction, thanks very much. I only have a few more days to listen to it before it gets returned to the library so I'd better get on it.
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go / Patrick Ness - I've been hearing about this one from pretty much the entire world, and now it is sitting sad and forlorn on my floor, with only a few pages read.
  • True History of the Kelly Gang / Peter Carey - this has been my "on the go"/lunch hour book for awhile, until I somehow took it out of my purse without remembering that I'd done so.
  • The Rose That Grew From Concrete / Tupac Shakur - a friend of mine was giving away a bunch of books, and among the pile of baby/pregnancy guides was this gem. A book of Tupac's poetry? Put it in my brain. 
   There are too many things to do and read, not to mention assignments that need to be written and turned in. My floor is covered in piles and piles of books. Cleaning my room basically consists of making three piles of books into one pile and moving the larger piles nearer to my overflowing bookshelf. GET A GRIP.

   Here's hoping that alla y'all are in the middle of several books as well, so we can all identify and sympathize with each other.