Milo loves to read so here is his most recent list along with some notes and quotes he has compiled from some of them. Enjoy!
“The Power of the Dog” Don Winslow
“Lives Laid Away” Stephen Mack Jones
“The Cold Millions” Jess Walter
I followed him through a fancy landing, beneath dual staircases, to a two-story library. Books that hadn’t been cracked since they were shelved. Give money to a monkey and he’ll fill his cage with bananas. Give the same money to a dim American and he’ll build a show library every time.
“Look,” Early said, “in case the first possibility is true, let’s not talk about her at all. Let’s say,” he stuck out his bottom lip, “there’s a castle. And a king is in the castle. And he’s an ass, because, well, kings are asses. Takes too much in tribute. The other knights and noblemen hate him. They say, This fella is getting rich off our fields and the tribute we get from the peasants. They scheme and plot and one day they slit his throat. Replace him with a new king. But pretty soon the noblemen say, Well, goddamn, the new king is as shitty as the last greedy son of a bitch. So they whack his head off, too, and put in a new greedy king. Kings killing kings. You know what that’s called?”
Rye shook his head.
“Shakespeare,” Early said. “Now let’s say you’re on the other side of the moat, and you got these peasants watching one rich king bump off another rich king, thinking, Wait, this ain’t changing anything.” He gestured at Gurley. “They gather behind some charming rebel who leads the peasants in revolt, and they behead all the shitty knights and princes and noblemen.”
Rye just shrugged.
“Here is my point–the peasants own the castle now, and they become the greedy sons of bitches. It’s all the same. What I’m saying is maybe the king ain’t the problem, Maybe what it is”–Early took another pull from the flask–“is time to blow up the whole goddamn castle.”
“The Fire Next Time” James Baldwin
“The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear.” – letter from James Baldwin to his nephew
In all jazz, and especially in the blues, there is something tart and ironic, authoritative and double-edged. White Americans seem to feel that happy songs are happy and sad song are sad, and that, God help us, is exactly the way most white Americans sing them–sounding in both cases, so helplessly, defenselessly fatuous that one dare not speculate on the temperature of the deep freeze from which issue their brave and sexless little voices.
It is the individual uncertainty on the part of white American men and women, this inability to renew themselves at the fountain of their own lives, that makes the discussion let alone elucidation , of any conundrum - that is, any reality - so supremely difficult. The person who distrusts himself has no touchstone for reality... whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.
The White man's unadmitted - and apparently to him, unspeakable - private fears and longings are projected onto the Negro. The only way he can be released from the Negro's tyrannical power over him is to consent, in effect, to become black himself, to become part of the suffering and dancing country that he now watches wistfully from the heights of his lonely power and, armed with spiritual traveller's cheques, visits surreptitiously after dark.
We are controlled here by our confusion, far more than we know, and the American dream has therefore become something much more closely resembling a nightmare, on the private, domestic, and international levels. Privately, we cannot stand our lives and dare not examine them; domestically, we take no responsibility for (and no pride in) what goes on in our country; and, internationally, for many millions of people, we are an unmitigated disaster.
“August Snow” Stephen Mack Jones
“Willnot” James Sallis
“The twenty-minute slam.” When he shook his head, I went on, “Someone my father knew said that’s how he wrote a hundred TV shows. Whatever the character believes, by twenty minutes into the show it folds up on him. Everything he knew was wrong. And because of that, in the last five minutes his life is changed forever. Not like that, huh?”
“The Distant Dead” Heather Young
“Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians invented the sundial, and they divided the day into twelve hours instead of ten. Because they didn’t count in groups of ten like we do. They counted like this.” With his right thumb Mr. Merkel touched the knuckles of his right index finger. “Three knuckles on each finger. Four fingers on each hand. Twelve. All the Western civilizations that came after them kept the twelve-hour day, even if they used a base-ten counting system. So when Europeans decided to divide hours into minutes, they picked sixty instead of one hundred, because sixty is a multiple of twelve.”
It was also a multiple of ten, Sal thought. He’d waited all week for Mr. Merkel to tell him a math story, but this one didn’t make any sense. “What does that have to do with factor trees?”
“Sixty is also a good choice if you want to break your hour into smaller parts. You can divide it by every number between one and six, and also twelve, fifteen, and thirty. You can only divide one hundred by five, ten, twenty, twenty-five, and fifty.”
Sal still wasn’t following. He wondered if Lucas would have. He probably would. He had a remarkable mind, after all.
“Think about the numbers you can divide into sixty that you can’t divide into one hundred,” Mr. Merkel prompted. “Three, six, twelve, fifteen, and thirty. What de they have in common?”
“I don’t know.” Sal hated how he sounded–like a sulky little kid–bet he couldn’t help it.
“They’re all multiples of three. Three is a prime factor of sixty, but it isn’t a prime factor one hundred.”
Then, in a flash of understanding, Sal got it. One hundred was two times two times five times five. Sixty was two times two times three times five, and that made all the difference. He thought of how time was measured, in all its subparts–five minutes or six, ten minutes or twelve, fifteen or twenty or thirty–and how much more fluid it became when the denominator was sixty instead of one hundred. Prime factorization wasn’t just a math game like the Riemann Hypothesis after all. It mattered, in real and important ways, like how we keep time. When Mr. Merkel saw that Sal understood, he smiled, and relief warmed Sal’s face.
“Ridgerunner” Gil Adamson
The absurdity of the situation was not lost on Moreland: This was after all the border between two countries. But all around him was a sea of grass and rolling land and wind and animals and dust and seeds that flowed this way and that across the imagined line. A decade and a half earlier he would not have stopped, nor intended to stop, nor have approached the crossing station at all. He would not have given it the slightest thought, he would have gone his own quiet, solitary way, neither wild nor domesticated, just alone. But now he had been so long among people he’d forgotten that part of himself. So it came to him very slowly that the natural world, having long ago defined its own precincts and notions of order, was simply waiting for him to become unstuck.
The bloody rich. The quality. They worried about everything, unaware of the soft life they enjoyed. They looked down on everyone, including other rich people, and not a single one of them, in his experience, was ever happy. They lacked respect for life.
“Fatal Pursuit” Martin Walker
This is the ninth book in the Bruno, Chief of Police series. As in the other books, Fatal Pursuit is centered around Walker’s descriptions of purchasing, cooking, and savoring the foods of Bruno's region, the Périgord and the amazing produce of his idyllic town St. Denis. The murder investigations in each book almost seem secondary to good eats!
“Malraux in his Antimémoires says he asked an old priest what he’d learned after a lifetime of hearing confessions. And the priest thought for a moment and then said, ‘There are no grown-ups.’ “
“Animal Farm” George Orwell
“Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” Tom Franklin
His mother had had to work two jobs plus clean houses to pay for the trailer home she’d bought in Fulsom. Back then he’d told himself she just wanted him out of the way. That was why she’d sent him off. Lying to himself even as he opened the letters she mailed him in Oxford, unfolding the limp five- and ten-dollar bills she sent each week so he could go to his classes and play baseball without having to get a job. He knew now she’s loved him despite his never writing her back, despite the trouble and fear he caused her, despite the thing missing out of him. He’d returned her love by rarely coming home, and when he did she’d doted over him, as if every meal was his last, or hers, straightened his paper napkin and laid another chicken leg on his plate and filled his milk glass or his iced tea so much he could barely stand it. He’d refused to see the truth, that she was starving from loneliness. In fact, he could barely look at her. All he could do was eat quickly and squirm away and go out into the night (driving her car) and find M&M and his other high school friends while she sat waiting for him to come home.
“Blood Hollow” William Kent Krueger
Johnny Papp’s Pinewood Broiler was an institution in Aurora, a gathering place for locals as far back s Cork would remember. His father, during his tenure as sheriff, often started his day there, rubbing elbows with the loggers and construction crews and merchants and resort owners of Tamarack County. Most of them were descended from the early Voyageurs and the immigrants–Finns, Germans, Slavs, Irish, and a dozen other nationalities who’d come in the old days, lured by the promise of a good life built on the wealth of the great white pines and the rich iron ore deposits of the Mesabi and Vermillion Ranges. Only a very few ended up rich, but most immigrants were able to build good lives, create homes, and establish history. The problem was that as they moved in, they shoved aside an entire group of people who had occupied that land for generations. The white men called them the Chippewa, which was a bastardization of one of the names by which they were known, Ojibwe. They were part of the Anishinaabe Nation whose territory, by the time the white settlers arrived, stretched from the eastern shores of the Great Lakes to the middle of the Great Plains. The Anishinaabeg saw themselves as stewards of the land with no more right or need to possess the earth than the hawks did the air currents that held them aloft. Land ownership was a white man’s concept, and it was accomplished through a series of treaties and underhanded business dealings that robbed the Anishinaabeg blind.
“Lazarus” Lars Kepler
“Righteous” Joe Ide
“Wild Seed” Octavia E. Butler
“Devil In a Blue Dress” Walter Mosley
I had read this over fifteen years ago but thought I’d give it another go. Mosley has written fifteen novels that feature the character Easy Rawlins and this was the kickoff from 1990. I’ll be willing to read the second one, A Red Death, if I can find it. The library here does not have it. I’ve since read so many outstanding mystery/crime writers that I’m not convinced Mosley’s work stands out. We’ll see.
“IQ” Joe Ide
“The Facts of Life and Death”Belinda Bauer
As well as trying to catch a serial killer, on Tuesday night Calvin had held Shirley’s hand through a tablecloth crisis. The choices were Ivory, Buttermilk, and Vanilla. They were all the same, but it had taken three hours hunched over the huge and hideous books of swatches, and two long, weepy interludes, to reach a decision. And the swatches were only part of it. Shirley had turned Calvin’s flat into her own little incident room, swirling with a thousand paper samples and cloth samples and cake samples and favors and flavors, and infinite lists that Calvin was supposed to have memorized. It was a glittery tide of wedding porn – all of which cost a thousand times more than real porn. The invitations were impregnated with bits of lavender and had edges that were ‘hand-torn’ – presumably by experts, given the price. And the centerpieces – which were only made of flowers – were each the same price as a crate of reasonable beer. The cake was costing more than Calvin’s first car.
“Purgatory Ridge” William Kent Krueger
“Blacktop Wasteland” S. A. Cosby
“Boundary Waters” William Kent Krueger
“The Ridge” Michael Koryta
“The Patriarch” Martin Walker
“The Line That Held Us” David Joy
“Kind Folk” Ramsey Campbell
“Snap” Belinda Bauer
“Iron Lake” William Kent Krueger
“The Kings of Cool” Don Winslow
“How the Light Gets In” Louise Penny
“The Mask” Taylor Stevens
“The Deptford Trilogy” Robertson Davies
I reflected, being decorated as a hero, and in the eyes of everybody here I am indeed a hero; but I know that my heroic act was rather a dirty job I did when I was dreadfully frightened; I could just as easily muddled it and been ingloriously killed. But it doesn’t much matter, because people seem to need heroes; so long as I don’t lose sight of the truth, it might as well be me as anyone else. And here before me stands a marvelously groomed little man who is pinning a hero’s medal on me because some of his forebears were Alfred the Great, and Charles the First, and even King Arthur, for anything I know to the contrary. But I shouldn’t be surprised if inside he feels as puzzled about the fate that brings him here as I. We are public icons, we two; he an icon of kingship, and I an icon of heroism, unreal yet very necessary; we have obligations above what is merely personal, and to let personal feelings obscure the obligations would be failing in one’s duty.
He was the quintessence of the jazz age, a Scott Fitzgerald character. It was characteristic of Boy throughout his life that he was always the quintessence of something that somebody else had recognized and defined.
It seemed that Mr. King’s taste in literature, like Leadbetter’s in religion, was evidence of a sweet tooth, and nothing more.
He was a genius – that is to say, a man who does superlatively and without obvious effort something that most people cannot do by the uttermost exertion of their abilities. He was a genius at making money, and that is as uncommon as great achievements in the arts. The simplicity of his concepts and the masterly way in which they were carried through made jealous people say he was lucky and people like my schoolmaster colleagues say he was a crook; but he made his own luck, and no breath of financial scandal ever came near him.
I had schooled myself since the war days never to speak of my enthusiasms; when other people did not share them, which was usual, I was hurt and my pleasure diminished; why was I always excited about things other people did not care about? But I could not hold in. I boasted a little in the Common Room that I had received an acceptance from Analecta; my colleagues looked uncomprehendingly, like cows at a passing train, and went on talking about Brebner’s extraordinary hole-in-one the day before.
They were a strange lot, these moneyed, influential friends of Boy’s, but they were obviously interesting to each other. They talked a lot of what they called ‘politics’, though there was not much plan or policy in it, and they were worried about the average man, or as they usually called him ‘the ordinary fellow’. This ordinary fellow had two great faults; he could not think straight and he wanted to reap where he had not sown. I never saw much evidence of straight thinking among these ca-pittle-ists, but I came to the conclusion that they were reaping where they had sown, and that what they had sown was not, as they believed, hard work and great personal sacrifice but talent – a rather rare talent, a talent that nobody, even its possessors, likes to recognize as a talent and therefore not available to everybody who cares to sweat for it – the talent for manipulating money. How happy they might have been if they had recognized and gloried in their talent, confronting the world as gifted egotists, comparable to painters, musicians, or sculptors! But that was not their style. They insisted on degrading their talent to the level of mere acquired knowledge and industry. They wanted to be thought of as wise in the ways of the world and astute in politics; they wanted to demonstrate in themselves what the ordinary fellow might be if he would learn to think straight and be content to reap only where he had sown. They and their wives (women who looked like parrots or bulldogs, most of them) were so humorless and, except when they were drunk, so cross that I thought the ordinary fellow was lucky not to be like them. It seemed to me they knew less about the ordinary fellow than I did, for I had fought in the war as an ordinary fellow myself, and most of these men had been officers. I had seen the ordinary fellow’s heroism and also his villainy, his tenderness and also his unthinking cruelty, but I had never seen in him much capacity to devise or carry our a coherent , thoughtful, long-range plan; he was just as much the victim of his emotions as were the these rich wiseacres. Where shall wisdom be found, and where is the place of understanding? Not among Boy Staunton’s ca-pittle-ists, nor among the penniless scheme-spinners in the school Common Room, nor yet at the Socialist Communist meetings in the city, which were sometimes broken up by the police. I seemed to be the only person I knew without a plan that would put the world on its feet and wipe the tear from every eye. No wonder I felt like a stranger in my own land.
He had virtually no education, though he could speak several languages, and one of the things Liesl had to teach him, as tactfully as possible, was not to talk out of his depth. I thought that much of his extraordinarily impressive personality arose from his ignorance – or, rather, from his lack of a headful of shallow information that would have enabled him to hold his own in a commonplace way among commonplace people. As a schoolmaster of twenty years’ experience I had no use for smatterers. What he knew, he knew as well as anybody on earth; it gave him confidence, and sometimes a naîve egotism that was hard to believe.
‘You should take a look at this side of your life you have not lived. Now don’t wriggle and snuffle and try to protest. I don’t mean you should have secret drunken weeks and a widow in a lacy flat who expects you every Thursday, like some suburban ruffian. You are a lot more than that. But every man had a devil, and a man of unusual quality, like yourself, Ramsay, has an unusual devil. You must get to know your personal devil. You must even get to know his father, the Old Devil. Oh, this Christianity! Even when people swear they don’t believe in it, the fifteen hundred years of Christianity that made our world is in their bones, and they want to show they can be Christians without Christ. Those are the worst; they have the cruelty of doctrine without the poetic grace of myth.’
Yes, I recalled Plato’s theory of our fourfold means of apprehension, and could name them: Reason, Understanding, Opinion, and Conjecture. But Dr von Haller, who had not been to Oxford, wanted to call them Thinking, Feeling, Sensation, and Intuition, and seemed to have some conviction that it was not possible for a rational man to make his choice or establish his priorities among these four, plumping naturally for Reason. We were born with a predisposition toward one of the four, and had to work from what we were given.
‘A manticore is a fabulous creature with a lion’s body, a man’s face, and a sting in his tail.’ “I never heard of it.’ ’No, they are not common, even in myths.’
‘We have agreed, have we not, that everything that makes man a great, as opposed to a merely sentient creature, is fanciful when tested by what people call common sense? That common sense often means no more than yesterday’s opinions? That every great advance began in the realm of the fanciful? That fantasy is the mother not merely of art, but of science as well? I am sure that when the very first primitives began to think that they were individuals and not creatures of a herd and wholly bound by the ways of the herd, they seemed fanciful to their hairy, low-browed brothers – even though those hairy lowbrows had no concept of fantasy.’
He talked a lot about Father as a great man of business, but that cut no ice with me. I don’t mean he suggested Father was anything but honest, because there were never any grounds for that. But he talked about the corrupting power of great wealth and the illusion it created in its possessor that he could manipulate people, and the dreadful truth that there were a great many people whom he undoubtably could manipulate, so that the illusion was never seriously challenged. He talked about the illusion wealth creates that its possessor is of a different clay from that of common men. He talked about the adulation great wealth attracts from people to whom worldly success is the only measure of worth. Wealth bred and fostered illusion and illusion brought corruption. That was his theme.
‘I think you’ll make an advocate,’ said he. ‘You have the two necessities, ability and imagination. A good advocate is his client’s alter ego; his task is to say what his client would say for himself if he had the knowledge and power. Ability goes hand in hand with the knowledge: the power dependent on imagination. But when I say imagination I mean capacity to see all sides of a subject and weigh all possibilities; I don’t mean fantasy and poetry and moonshine; imagination is a good horse to carry you over the ground, not a flying carpet to set you free from probability.’
‘I do not promise happiness, and I don’t know what it is. You New World people are, what is the word, hipped on the idea of happiness, as if it were a constant and measurable thing, and settled and excused everything. If it is anything at all it is a by-product of other conditions of life, and some people whose lives do not appear to be at all enviable, or indeed admirable, are happy. Forget about happiness.’
‘Who are our television viewers? Ragtag and bobtail; drunk and sober; attentive or in a nose-picking stupor. With the flabby concentration of people who are getting something for nothing. I am used to audiences who come because they want to see me, and have paid to do it. In the first five minutes I have made them attentive as they have never been before in their lives. I can’t guarantee to do that on TV. I can’t see my audience, and what I can’t see I can’t dominate. And what I can’t dominate I can’t enchant, and humor, and make partners in their own deception.
Time after time he has reminded us that he is the greatest creature of his kind in the world. He does it without shame. He is not held back by any middle-class notion that it would be nicer if we said it instead of himself. He knows we’re not going to say it, because nothing so destroys the sense of equality on which all pleasant social life depends as perpetual reminders that one member of the company out-ranks all the rest. When it is so, it is considered good manners for the pre-eminent one to keep quiet about it. Because Magnus has been talking for a couple of hours we have assumed that his emphasis is the only emphasis.
You’re trying to catch the Guvnor’s manner and you aren’t making a bad fist of it, but there are one or two things you haven’t noticed. You’re an acrobat, good enough to walk the slack wire, but you’re tight as a drum. Look at the Guvnor; he hasn’t a taut muscle in his body, nor a slack one, either. He’s in easy control all the time. Have you noticed him standing still? When he listens to another actor, have you seen how still he is? Look at you now, listening to me; you bob about and twist and turn and nod your head with enough energy to turn a windmill. But it’s all waste, y’see. If we were in a scene, you’d be killing half the value what I say with all that movement. Just try to sit still. Yes, there you go; you’re not still at all, you’re frozen. Stillness isn’t looking as if you were full of coiled springs. It’s repose. Intelligent repose. That’s what the Guvnor has. What I have, too, as a matter of fact. What Barnard has. What Milady has. I suppose you think repose means asleep, or dead.
‘I suppose the greatest advantage I have had over other people who have wanted to do what I can do is that I really had no education at all, and am free of the illusions and commonplace values that education brings. I don’t speak against education; for most people it is a necessity; but if you’re going to be a genius you should try to either to avoid education entirely, or else work hard to get rid of any you’ve been given. Education is for commonplace people and it fortifies their commonplaceness. Makes them useful, of course, in an ordinary sort of way.
‘You have read Spengler? No: it is not so fashionable as it once was. But Spengler talks a great deal about what he calls the Magian World View, which he says we have lost, but which was part of the Weltanschauung – you know, the world outlook – of the Middle Ages. It was a sense of the unfathomable wonder of the invisible world that existed side by side with a hard recognition of the roughness and cruelty and day-to-day demands of the tangible world. It was a readiness to see demons where nowadays we see neuroses, and to see the hand of a guardian angel in what we are apt to shrug off ungratefully as a stroke of luck. It was religion, but a religion with a thousand gods, none of them all-powerful and most of them ambiguous in their attitude toward man. It was poetry and wonder which might reveal themselves in the dunghill, and it was an understanding of the dunghill that lurks in poetry and wonder. It was a sense of living in what Spengler called a quivering cavern-light which is always in danger of being swallowed up in the surrounding, impenetrable darkness.
This is what Herr Trousers-Crease seemed to have, and what made him ready to spend his time on work that would have maddened a man of modern education and modern sensibility. We have paid a terrible price for our education, such as it is. The Magian World View, in so far as it exists, has taken flight into science, and only the great scientists have it or understand where it leads; the lesser ones are merely clockmakers of a larger growth, just as so many of our humanist scholars are just cud-chewers or system-grinders. We have educated ourselves into a world from which wonder, and the fear and dread and splendor and freedom of wonder have been banished. Of course wonder is costly. You couldn’t incorporate it into a modern state, because it is the antithesis of the anxiously worshipped security which is what a modern state is asked to give. Wonder is marvelous but it is also cruel, cruel, cruel. It is undemocratic, discriminatory, and pitiless.
“How It Happened” Michael Koryta
“The Free” Willy Vlautin
“The Children Return” Martin Walker
“Ship of Fools” Katherine Anne Porter
I’ve been reading this book off and on for a year or so with an attempt to get involved with the characters. After 340 out of 497 pages I decided to chuck it. There is seemingly no plot but large helpings of character assassination, which can be charming in doses. With no particular protagonist, we are witness to people from all socio-economic backgrounds with a mix of nationality, gender, and religions. Every person feels they are the wise ones and all others are the ‘fools.’ Written at a time when ocean travel was the only option, which took days and days and days, this is how time felt when reading this tome. Probably intentional on Porter’s part.
Despite all of that, they are several passages of interest noted below.
The place you are going towards doesn’t exist yet, you must build it when you come to the right spot.
“People can't hear anything except when it's nonsense. Then they hear every word. If you try to talk sense, they think you don't mean it, or don't know anything anyway, or it's not true, or it's against religion, or it's not what they are used to reading in the newspapers...”
Mrs. Treadwell moved away again, from the threat of human nearness, of feeling. If she stayed to listen, she knew she would weaken little by little, she would warm up in spite of herself, perhaps in the end identify herself with the other, take on his griefs and wrongs, and if it came to that, feel finally guilty as if she herself had caused them; yes, and he would believe it too, and blame her freely. It had happened too often, could she not learn at last? All of it was no good, neither for confidant nor listener. There was no cure, no comfort, tears change nothing and words can never get at the truth. No, don't tell me any more about yourself, I am not listening, you cannot force my attention. I don't want to know you, and I will not know you. Don't try to come nearer.
Jenny and Freytag fell into a kind of half-confidential talk about themselves with the ease of travelers who hardly expect to know each other better, that near-candor which comes of the possibility of future indifference.
Herr Lutz, whose mind, when not exercising its peculiar form of humor, stuck pretty consistently to the practical considerations of life, always led off his first talk with any stranger by inquiring how he got his living. The more unpretentious and immediate the means proved to be, the sooner the stranger established himself in Herr Lutz’s esteem.
Herr Hanson paid no attention to Frau Baumgartner. “Civilization,” he said, with blunt contempt, “let me tell you what it is. First the soldier, then the merchant, then the priest, then the lawyer. The merchant hires the soldier and priest to conquer the country for him. First the soldier, he is a murderer; then the priest, he is a liar; then the merchant, he is a thief; and they all bring in the lawyer to make their laws and defend their deeds, and there you have your civilization!”
Jenny couldn’t possibly be up to any good, or she would have stayed at home, where she belonged. That is the sum of it, thought Jenny, and wouldn’t their blood run cold if they could only know the facts? Ah well, the family can get under your skin with little needles and scalpels if you venture too near them: they attach suckers to you and draw your blood from every pore if you don’t watch out. But that didn’t keep you from loving them, nor them from loving you, with that strange longing, demanding, hopeless tenderness and bitterness, wound into each other in a net of living nerves.
Dr. Schumann chose to smile only a little at this and looked away over the rail to the water. “Imagine me, a doctor, after all these years in quiet Heidelberg thinking I should find repose from the world on a ship. I am astonished at myself for thinking, now maybe I shall learn something new about myself or the people I live with; but no such thing. I have seen all this before, over and over, only never until now did I see it on a ship. These people I have seen them all before, only in other places, under different names. I know their diseases almost be looking at them, and if you know what sickness is in a man you very often can tell what form his vices and his virtues have taken.”
“Let me say at once that if I had my way in the matter,” said the Captain, “I should not allow one even on board my ship at all (Spaniards), not even in the steerage. They pollute the air.”
He closed his eyes, opened his mouth, turned the point of his large spoon spilling over the thick pea soup and fried crusts towards him, plunged it deeply into his mouth, clamped his lips over it and drew the spoon out empty, chewed once, gulped, and instantly set about repeating the performance. The others, except Dr. Schumann, who drank his broth from a cup, leaned over their plates also, and there was silence for a time except for gurgling, lapping noises while everybody waded into the soup, and stillness except for the irregular rhythm of heads dipping and rising. The ring was closed solidly against all undesirables, ally as well as enemy. All the faces were relaxed with sensual gratification, mingled with deep complacency; they were, after all, themselves and no one else: the powerful, the privileged, the right people. The edge being taken off appetite, they fell to being charming to each other, with elegant gestures, and exaggerated movements of their features, as though they were in a play; making a little festival to celebrate their rediscovered kinship, their special intimate bonds of blood and sympathy. Under the gaze of aliens as they believed –– in fact no one, not even the Spaniards, was paying any attention to them –– they set an example of how superior persons conduct themselves toward each other. Herr Professor Hutten ordered wine and they exchanged toasts all around. They smacked their lips and said, “Ja, ja!”
And slowly there poured through all his veins again that deep qualm of loathing and intolerable sexual fury, a poisonous mingling of sickness and deathlike pleasure: it ebbed and left him as it always had before, merely a little sick. Once in the early days with Jenny, he had confessed to her, haltingly, after their fresh gay love-making in the cool spring morning, the strange times he had lived through in that place; somehow he felt, and expected her to understand, that this aftertaste of bitter disgust had cleansed him, restored him untouched to the wholeness of his manhood. He was glad to be able to say he was sick of the thought of sex for a good while after such nights. He had felt superior to his acts and to his partners in them, and altogether redeemed and separated from their vileness by that purifying contempt.
Jenny, sitting up in bed, had leaned over and taken his face between her hands and said blithely, “Never mind, darling. That’s a normal Methodist hangover. Men love to eat themselves sick and then call their upchuck by high-sounding names.”
“Above the Waterfall” Ron Rash
“The Weight of This World” David Joy
“Galveston” Nic Pizzolatto
“Anthill” E. O. Wilson
“Their philosophy,” Robbins went on, frowning and slightly shaking his head, “is that the earth was created for man, and dominion over nature mentioned in the Bible means replacing nature with people. They separate the world into two parts. Here is where we live, and away from us out there is nature, the place where critters, bugs, and wild plants live. Nature is fungible, in their view. I actually had a local banker say to my face what price he thinks will buy Nokobee, “It’ll be twenty million dollars, and a couple endangered species aren’t worth that,’ he said.”
“Well, what about all the churches? Don’t they care about the environment?”
Robbins shook his head again. “Believe it or not, a lot of folks on the Christian hard right around here are dead set against nature reserves. They think saving the wild environment is just an all-around bad idea. Don’t get me wrong. Most evangelicals I know are for conservation. They believe God means for us to save the Creation and God’s good green earth in general. But a few extremists are absolutely convinced God means us to do the opposite. They’re saying, ‘Use it all up, the faster the better, because Jesus is coming. The End of Days is almost here. He’ll show up as soon as the planet’s messed up a little bit more. The devil wants to keep us all here on earth, and Jesus wants to take us on up to heaven, at least He wants to take the true believers up.’ They say that’s all written in the Book of Revelation.”
“I suggest, Harvard man, that you go right home and read the book of Revelation to Saint John the Divine. It’s the last book of the Bible, put there for all to read, and it contains the prophesy in Jesus’s own words. His own words. You’ve probably been brainwashed to think the lord is always kind and forgiving. Now, that’s a lot of crap! Jesus came to John holding a sword. He said he hates those who deceive others and those who refuse to accept His rule. He said he will kill them. Yes. He will kill people in order to protect God’s people, those who choose to believe His Word. That’s the kind of war we’re in, Raphael, and Satan can’t be beaten any other way except by people giving their should to Jesus Christ, and right now!”
“The Sentinel” Lee Child and Andrew Child
“The Fire Witness” Lars Kepler
“When These Mountains Burn” David Joy
This is my first book by David Joy and won’t be the last. He’s an amazing storyteller and this novel is a harrowing tale of addiction, family, revenge, economic struggle, and North Carolina mountain living.
The very fabric that once defined the mountains fragmented and was replaced with outsiders who built second and third homes on the ridge lines and drove the property values so high that what few locals were left couldn’t afford to pay the taxes on their land.
Of course there were the drugs. There was the decade of meth, the transition to pain pills and needles, and that wasn’t a mountain problem so much as an American problem. That was the escapist cure for systemic poverty, the result of putting profit margins ahead of people for two hundred years. And when it all boiled down, that was the root cause of it all.
It wasn’t just a matter of economics. It wasn’t the drugs. It was an abandonment of values. It was trading hard work for convenience. It was marking the nearest Starbucks as a place more important than the front porch.