Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quaint Vignettes From My Charming Rural Idyll

The best books of the past year:

No superlatives are adequate. Stop reading this and run out and get Ol' Smilla RIGHT NOW. The writing kicks ass, the story is riveting and the main character is the only woman in recent fiction that I could see myself being able to talk to for longer than five minutes. Except for the lady in....

Oh, it starts out simple and charming. It is most assuredly NOT simple and charming. And it most assuredly is not merely a story about a woman who decides to be a detective. This one is worth whatever you have to pay for it, folks. As is...

It took me a long time to pick this up, and I was so glad I did. There are passages in this book that are so lucid that you experience them as visual memory. No shit. The only other author I've read that was able to elicit a scene like that was Kipling. Don't go into this expecting a story. It's many stories, and some of them are horrible and vast tangled around stories simple as dirt. How they even thought they could make a movie out of this one plumb eludes me.

I gotta go but I'll be back later this evening...I have to go to the dentist.


The dentist actually was not bad. I had to get a filling, which only took half an hour. Yeah, no kidding! I tell you what, its not like back in the '60's when you'd come out of the office after two hours, picking crap out of your hair and off the front of your shirt and tasting burnt enamel.
Since I have not been in to see the dentist since these amazing strides were made in the art, I was expecting SS Field Marshal Fred Flintstone wielding a stone hammer and a bird with a pointy beak like I'm used to; thus I was baked off my tits on Valium.
Half an hour later I'm completely through the procedure and just beginning to peak back out in the car. Fortunately I had enlisted my daughter to do the driving, and while she nattered on about boob jobs and public transportation I smiled and nodded and enjoyed the chemicals.

I did something this year that I haven't done since I was a little kid, which was to go hit the post-Christmas sales. I came out of the experience having learned two things: you can make out like a BANDIT, and that I will never set foot in the Bon Marche again. You want to talk about a nasty, sniffy, shitty bunch of entitled women. Meaning the clientele, of course; not the longsuffering and generally excellent staff. They were lovely and attentive, which I can only attribute to some kind of selective Bon Marche clerk breeding program in the Midwest because if I worked there I'd be tasing some bitches in the throat. I had forgotten how utterly putrid a certain class of woman can be. Shopping for a scarf in the accessories department of the Bon brought it all cascading back. Oh the eye-rolling! The sneering! The curled lips and the exasperated sighs! Nasty Clinique-marinated matrons thrusting their diamond studded chicken claws past your face to finger the cashmere with the mindless avidity of zombies eating a baby, botoxed foreheads glinting in the fluorescent light! Skeletal high school girls, bad Ferragamo knock-off bags like buckle encrusted footballs tucked in each ones armpit, huffing their impatience with having to stand and wait to use their credit cards! Nobody meeting anybody elses gaze, grim, pissy and joyless...it was a less than delightful shopping experience. And all to buy a 6 foot length of yarn for 93 goddamn dollars? I walked my ass down to Target and found the same scarf for 23 bucks. Fuck the Bon.

Just for the record: I now own NINE different Jimi Hendrix t-shirts!

One more good book for the road:
Oh man. This one was so intense I had to put it down a lot and just think about it all. I knew these women-not literally, of course- but I had no idea. NO FUCKING IDEA WHATSOEVER. This is our history. Read it. Be ready to feel some shit. This woman;s struggle to simply make a living and live out each day in peace and dignity makes Henri Charriere's efforts to escape the French prison islands look like the Jungle ride at Disneyland.


  1. I read "Smilla's Sense of Snow" several years ago prior to blogging and reviewed it in my then paper "Bush Diary". The scene that blew me away was the sex scene where she inserted a tiny portion of her anatomy into a tiny portion of his anatomy. I had never even envisioned such a thing. The things you learn in books......R

  2. Anonymous11:27 AM

    Not sure how I found your blog the first time...maybe cos we read similar stuff.
    Dentist? Ouch!

  3. I have read none of these books , but I shall hunt them down , altho Smillas Sense of Snow sounds a bit girly . Dentists visits are a bit of dissapiontment for all concerned as far as I am concerned , I have never had a filling or anything , and the dentist sulks every time I go visit :-(

  4. Anonymous12:48 PM

    Man in white bows over you and has his swirling instrument in your mouth? Lucid scenes as visual memory? You had again this mushroom pie?

  5. Great more books to get and put on my shelf of 'To Read'. I am still working through 13 of Terry Goodkinds. have fun at the dentist.

  6. I loved, and I mean llurrved, reading 'Smilla'. Until it turned into a bloody sci-fi at the end. STILL pisses me off years later!
    Sorry ducks, but SciFi is the one genre I can't do. This doesn't explain why I really don't like Mr. McCall Smith though....
    "English Patient'? Yup. It was like good food.

    Hope the dentist wasn't too horrible.

  7. Anonymous4:24 PM

    Fabulous sweety. Other than the snow book I have read these and the Detective Agency in Botswana is a BBC show - quite good.

    Have a wonderful and Happy Nude year!! I shall be on my blog!!

  8. I read the first five books in 'The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series and enjoyed them.

    And then all of a sudden another five books in the series pop out but by this time I've moved on to his '44 Scotland Street' series.

    Then he starts cranking out a few books a year and there's no keeping up to him!

    I thought of you when I was reading R. Crumb’s ’The Book of Genesis’.

  9. It's not a proper dentist visit unless you get one like Bill Murray in Little Shop of Horrors.

    I thought I was doing well with 5 AC/DC shirts. I'm obviously slacking!

    These books you speak of...I prefer that you read them and then tell me about them. My adult ADD doesn't allow for reading books...except for Thomas Harris ones.

  10. Oh you sneaked another book in there did ya?
    Was the SSA talking about boob jobs and public transportation as two seperate subjects or was she proposing a radical new service of getting ones dumplings plumped while on the bus to walmart.....it could be a winner

  11. Anonymous8:05 AM

    arabella, okay I forgot the Scifi ending in "Smilla's" but it was only a giant worm.........mighta coulda.......

    Owie, dentists. I too remember the smell of burning chicken feathers, much better these days.

  12. "I had forgotten how utterly putrid a certain class of woman can be."

    Yes, if there's anything that can make me appreciate Wal-Mart, it's those kind of women. And as far as salespeople go, don't even get me started on Nordstrom. Their sales people are not what they used to be.

    Do ya read fluff? Have you read "An Echo in the Bone"? If so, whaddya think of it? Got it for my birthday a couple of weeks ago and just finished it.

  13. What is this modern fiction of which you speak? I'll stick to my Venerable Bede thank you very much.

    My dentist is a Harley Davidson riding German called Klaus. He's not riding the Harley much these days as he got done for drink driving.

    I said "Klaus, stick to the Novocaine me old mate or you'll be hanging your drill up before long".

    He nodded curtly, as Germans do even when they're not called Kurt.

  14. After Christmas sales? You really are starting to sound like a grandma now. (sorry)

  15. Okay, I've seen The English Patient and Smilla's Sense of Snow...had no idea they were books. And I'm pretty sure the first time I heard of The #1 Ladies Detective Agency was from a promo for HBO. Who knew they were based on books?

    Happy New Year, FN!

    Best wishes for a fantastic New Year full of good fun, good people, and good times.


  16. I really enjoy AMS's books, 2 1/2 pillars of wisdom made me lol, especially the sausage dog bit, and I like dogs, really! The English P was good so will look on amazon for Smilla and the Stoney one.

    Happy New Year FN will em you but am fine ta xx

  17. Anonymous6:03 PM

    @ Arabella - Yes I agree - I really enjoyed Smilla until just near the end. I'd been wondering where the writer was going to go with the story, but a sinking feeling developed as I realised. Still, the book is mostly very good.

    No.1 Detective - also enjoyed that, and most if not all of the one following in the series. Gets a bit much though, you need to have decent breaks between reading them. As well as the Scotland Street series, he has also written some very funny stuff about an Austrian philosophy professor - especially the sausage dog action. (Can't say more, might spoil the build-up.)

    English Patient - not read - saw film though. It was good. Don't usually get some prominent Sikh characters.