Monday, 2 January 2012

Jottings from the Tropics: 2 Jan 2012

According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast, it will be mostly dry for the next few days with nothing even vaguely monsoonal in the vicinity. This time last year we had just been soaked by Cyclone Tasha, which heralded a very wet start to 2011, so I am not at all dismayed that it isn’t pi...pelting down here. Around here, we’ll take whatever sunshine we can get.

- o O o - 

Despite the lack of precipitation, I have pulled the first books off the shelves of my Wet Season library. (They’re metaphorical shelves. The library is actually a plastic tote box, formerly used for field gear and specimens.) Last year, I worked my way through stacks of Graham Greene, Thea Astley and Barbara Kingsolver titles. This year I am concentrating on Umberto Eco, Amitav Ghosh and a selection of U.S. authors who write what Daniel Woodrell describes as ‘country noir’. I’ll see how it goes. I am currently half way through Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum and feel I should be taking notes.

- o O o - 

I am not confining myself to those authors, of course. I have just finished reading James Lee Burke’s latest — Feast Day for Fools. I love JLB. Love him to bits. I’ve read every one of his novels and short stories and enjoyed them all. But I did not get much entertainment out of this one. The central character, who seems to me to be too old to go around belting people with that much vigour, doesn’t drive the story. Instead, the narrative bounces off the multiple antagonists like a pinball. There are twists and dazzling prose and a feel of Cormac McCarthy about this, which, in itself is no bad thing. But there is no emotional core to the tale, just a lot of lost and violent characters who remain lost and violent throughout. And, to be honest, I can’t even remember whether the maddest and baddest of the mad, bad guys was killed in the end. This is not a good thing.

But my reading of it might differ from someone else’s. That’s the wonderful thing about fiction — the story is constructed between writer and reader. The story is different for everyone.

- o O o - 

I am currently engrossed in China Miéville’s Kraken. An urban fantasy set in London, it revolves around a crime that draws the attention of the Met’s crack Fundamentalist and Sect-related Crime Unit. Or, as the author summarises it, “It’s a dark comedy about a squid-worshipping cult and the end of the world.” The protagonist is a mollusc curator from the Natural History Museum. When the giant squid is stolen from the Darwin Centre, this fictional curator immediately lays the blame on Steve O’Shea from Te Papa. And, by crikey, so would I.

- o O o - 

The cyclone pantry is now stocked. Not only do I have enough supplies to last through the aftermath of another Yasi, but also sufficient to survive a zombie apocalypse. That is, as long as the two events do not occur consecutively. And if they do, I hope the zombie thing comes first, because then the cyclone will wipe them out. As you can see, I’ve thought this through. Although I have food, batteries, water containers, books etc, I have yet to sharpen the shovels. I do have a collection of LPs, which means I can adopt the Shaun of the Dead delaying strategy if need be. There are no Prince albums, so I should be all right.

The above applies only to a human zombie apocalypse. If the local road kill is reanimated, I will be safe. It won’t be me they come after.

8 comments:

Tyto Tony said...

JLB in same league as Cormac? That'll be the bloody day. And talking of blood, Pride & J & Zombies my fav mashup read in 2011.

Snail said...

Something in the water down there, Tony?

I haven't read the mash ups --- wasn't there a subsequent one combining S & S & sea monsters and now about a zillion others?

I was trying to remember what term we used before 'mash up' and totally failing. We must have had a word.

Denis Wilson said...

Wow, Wet Season madness setting in already? Or is this just you two preparing?
Never seen Shaun of the Dead before.
Not sure I should have watched that clip just now. Too late at night.
.
One definitely is meant to take notes when reading Umberto Eco.
The old Professor would expect nothing less of his readers.
.
The NZ Giant Squid guy is probably a follower of your Blog.
No doubt your comment will get back to him. You damned Mollusc enthusiasts play hard, don't you?
.
Cheers
Denis
My word verification code tonight is "cocupd" - seems appropriate, if you say it fast enough.
Cheers
Denis

Snail said...

I think much of the problem is that I've only been into town once since Christmas Eve!

About a third of the way through the Eco and I must say it's a bit of a struggle. Still, I've got my reading list and I'm sticking to it.

Oh, we mollusc people are a wild bunch! The reference to the Kiwis in Kraken tickled me. It's a touch of almost-but-not-quite verisimilitude. At its heart is the (IRL) discussion over which is the biggest squid --- Architeuthis (giant squid) or Mesonychoteuthis (colossal squid)? Te Papa's colossal squid pages make a good case in favour of the latter, but I'm not sure what the current thinking is about Architeuthis.

The mention in the book is a gentle joke about the 'rivalry' between Team Giant and Team Colossal. (I hope no one actually calls themselves that.)

People really like big squid. Like 'em enough to mention teuthologists by name in a novel. No one cares about snails. *sniff*

Denis Wilson said...

Well I enjoyed the joke, as much as I could piece it together, anyway.
Professional banter, taken in good part, is always fun.
The rest is best left unsaid.
Cheers
Denis

laurak@forestwalkart said...

sounds like you're pretty well prepared. hopefully you can enjoy your cyclone pantry contents without having to deal with a cyclone. weather is supposed to be abnormal...in 2012...

Snail said...

I'd better hold onto the food until the end of the season, because if I start eating it, you know what'll happen: no food and three cyclones in a row.

laurak@forestwalkart said...

...for ME...usually STUFF like that happens just the opposite...

...the plants need a drink desperately...no rain in the forecast...i drag the hose around and water everything...and then it rains!!

go figure!!
have a great week!