Saturday, 7 January 2012

Jottings from the Tropics: 7 Jan 2012

Well, I’m glad Friday is over. What an arse of a day. The plumber turned up first thing this morning to fix the ruptured water pipe in the garden. Of course, nothing is ever simple — especially with household plumbing — and the job took quite some time. But I got a lot done, because you have to look busy when there are people around, don’t you? You can’t sit down with your feet up when someone is digging a big, muddy hole in the garden.

The positive side of having the water cut off while the plumber did all his digging and fixing and scratching his head at the reticulation system, is that it thwarted my attempts to do the washing up and floor mopping. Oh, yes, that’s what I was going to do today. No, really. Why do you scoff?

- o O o -

I’ve added The Outlaw Album, a collection of short stories by Daniel Woodrell, to the pile of books that I’m currently reading. (Pile? Stack? What’s the minimum number of volumes required for a pile and/or stack?). Set in the Ozarks, these tales of not-quite-ordinary crimes are bleak, violent and claustrophobic. Here’s the New York Times review of the collection hot off the cyberpress.

Also in the book pile/stack/whatevs is William Hague’s biography of William Wilberforce, the British MP who fought against the slave trade for more than two decades until it was abolished in 1807. (Slavery was finally outlawed in the Empire in 1834.) I bought this book ages ago, but have only just got around to reading it. As might be expected, Hague concentrates on the political aspects of Wilberforce’s life. This is not a bad thing, but it would be interesting to get a view of the great reformer as a personality as well as a politician. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Baen Books have made available free online Manly Wade Wellman’s anthology of nineteen short stories, John the Balladeer. The eponymous protagonist — also known as Silver John — roams the Appalachians in North Carolina, generally trying to mind his own business, but unavoidably running into the uncanny and weird inhabitants of traditional and modern folk tales. The earliest title in the collection, O Ugly Bird!, was published in 1951; the most recent, Farther Down the Trail, in 1988. Worth checking out, if you haven’t read the stories before. The cost, yanno, nothing. Not even your soul.

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