On the reading front, I’ve been trying to stick to pulp by known authors, things I know I’ll be able to get through quickly. I’ve read Field Gray, which wasn’t the best Bernie Gunther novel, but it catches me up to Prague Fatale, the first novel I read in the series. I also read The Vor Game, which was pretty good, though not the greatest thing to win a Hugo award.
Perhaps instead of casting about for other television shows to watch, I should use the time to watch Lynda.com courses. I am paying for the subscription, and there are several things on my list.
My first attempt roasting and smoking a turkey breast on the grill was an astounding success. I made a cajun rub using my creole seasoning blend plus some sugar and salt, and I smoked it with the rest of the mesquite chips. I may have had the temperature a little low, because it took 2½ to reach 165°, but it was very tender and juicy. I know what I’ll be making when Thanksgiving comes around!
Speaking of Thanksgiving, this year will be the first year that it is just my brother and I. My mother, who has moved away, had always been the driver of Thanksgiving. The meal items were always very traditional, although changing dietary restrictions frequently led to recipe variations. I suppose my brother and I could do whatever we want, but aside from the aforementioned smoked turkey, I am inclined to stick to the traditional menu. I suppose this means I need to investigate and settle on recipes for items I normally don’t make, such as stuffing. And should I make lactose-free versions of these things? And does my brother eat cranberry sauce?
During my camping road trip this month, I listened to three audio books. All three were alright, but a little disappointing, and all three had the same two weaknesses: not much of a plot, conflict, or story goal, and spanning far too much time for a novel.
I expected A Gentleman in Moscow to be more serious than it was. It wasn’t exactly comical, but the protagonist was a little bit of a square, and spent most of the book being remarkably unconcerned about the things happening to him. Hardly a high-stakes conflict. As the book progressed, there were numerous portrayals of life under the Soviet regime, but they didn’t strike me as being particularly enlightening or authentic. The story spans about four decades, most of the protagonist’s life.
A Canticle for Leibowitz was completely different from what I expected. I had assumed it was going to be real science-fiction with a Jewish slant to it, along the lines of Pi. Instead, it was mostly humor that happened to take place in a post-apocalyptic future with a Catholic slant to it. The story is told in three periods of time, the first spanning decades, with several hundred years between each part of the story. Each of the three parts have their own characters and goals, and none have anything directly to do with the point of the story, and I’m at a loss to say what the actual story goal was. This is considered classic science fiction, but I can’t recommend it as either.
The Time Traveler’s Wife was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be, and yet I was still disappointed by it. This one spans a little longer than any one character’s lifetime, and I guess you could say the story goal was learning to cope with this strange condition. The non-chronological nature of the time travel lends itself to a relative lack of structure, and a significant amount of the story is told as an unordered series of vignettes. It’s not chick lit, but it is certainly all about love and marriage and foreverness and fate in the way that women think about such things, and rather naively at that. If it wasn’t an audio book and I hadn’t been been trapped in a car with it, I might have put it down part way through.