Words, Words, Words

July 25, 1999

I didn't accomplish much this weekend, beyond hauling some of the surface clutter of to the trash room. (Five loads of newspaper, two bags of trash, eight cardboard boxes, and the place is still a mess. But if I can manage to stay on top of the surface stuff, then maybe I can start to organize the rest of it; that's the theory, anyway.) So this is a good time for a round-up of this week's reading.

First up is City of Diamond by Jane Emerson. The City of Diamond and City of Opal are literally flying cities, enormous spacecrafts given to a human religious sect by a dying alien race called the Curosa. Over the centuries theological differences have brought the two cities into bloody conflict, and as the novel opens a political marriage has been arranged to bring peace to the two cities. This is an interesting book, full of political intrigue and cultural conflict, along with a brilliantly rendered pair of amoral characters who steal the novel with a surprisingly complex internal code.

Next, A Grave Talent by Laurie King. This mystery suffers a little from the need to make the talented woman artist The Most Talented Woman Artist Of The Twentieth Century And Don't You Forget It, but in a first novel one can be forgiven for occasionally pushing interesting characters to the point of caricature, and the depth of characterization makes this a deft psychological study as well as a capable mystery. A fun book to sit down with for a couple of hours.

Philistines at the Hedgerow is about the wealthy who live on ridiculously expensive estates in the Hamptons. If there's one lesson this book teaches, it's that rich people who are only interested in other rich people tend to be very boring. Not a surprise, really, although the eccentricity of a woman forcing gardeners to work at night so she doesn't have to see her own servants is stranger than anything I could imagine.

On television, I watched an episode last night of Early Edition, about a man who gets tomorrow's paper today. It's a pleasantly Capra-esque show, in that we know there's going to be a happy ending, with everything that at first seems to be going wrong sorting itself out with a kind of screwball inevitability. That makes it sound a bit more comic than it really is--the hero has stomach pains from all the stress, and there's nothing funny about a little girl trapped inside an abandoned refrigerator, banging on the door--but the characters are all pretty nice and the show manages to be upbeat without stupid. It's worth checking out if you're at home on Saturday night.

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