Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘reading’

The arrival of new appliances later this week mean that I have to move the bookshelves on the stairs. Roused to long-overdue action I’ve been using the necessity to cull books, mostly from historical and children’s fiction. My goal is to eliminate all double rows of books on the shelves, but I’m finding it harder to condemn books than I thought.

The historical fiction will survive with only minor culls; it’s full of books by Gillian Bradshaw, Bernard Cornwell, Robert Graves,. Rosemary Sutcliff, and Henry Trease, and Patrick O’Brian. However, I won’t be keeping the Dudley Popes, which are no more than adequately written, nor the odd library remainder with a wretched-looking cover. Admittedly, I haven’t read any of the twenty or so Georgette Heyers, but I figure that anything Trish liked so well should be worth a read some time; perhaps after I’ve read them all, I’ll keep the best half dozen.

Most of my culls are from the children’s section. I’m keeping the Arthur Ransom series, figuring I’ll read them some day. However, I’ve decided that I can live without most of the Doctor DoLittles, the Green Gables, and the Mary Poppins books.

However, it’s wretched to cull any books, and harder still to cull Trish’s book and the odd volume we bought anticipating having children. But I tell myself that keeping a book I’m not going to re-read is hoarding, and denying others a chance to read is simply wrong. All the same, there’s such a clear history of my life on the shelves that I half-believe I could commit a series of murders more easily than I can discard even books I’m not going to read.

Read Full Post »

I was slow to discover works of Lois McMaster Bujold. For decades, I believed her marketing, and dismissed her books as space opera or military SF. However, thanks to Jo Walton’s blog on the pleasures of re-reading, which devotes several entries to Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, I was persuaded to look beyond the covers. Consequently, the fifteen or so books in the series have formed the major part of my fiction reading in the last month, and I find myself wanting to whimper impatiently as I wait for more.

Bujold’s marketing does her no favors, because her stories of Miles Vorkosigan bear the same relation to standard space opera as John Le Carre’s novels do to the average spy thriller. You won’t find long, lovingly detailed accounts in her novels of ship to ship combat in deep space, or, in fact, very many short ones. In fact, many of the battles take place off-stage. You won’t even find that many descriptions of hand-to-hand combat, since a pre-natal poisoning has left Miles stunted and with brittle leg and arm bones. Miles does pass through the inevitable military academy, but only a small part of those years is ever narrated. Far from the usual war-porn, many novels in the series are better described as mysteries, or perhaps as thrillers.

At one point, Bujold does offer an info dump on the changing military technologies in her universe, but, more often, her concerns are the sociological effects of technology. Falling Free, for example, is about what happens when humans engineered for construction in space suddenly find themselves obsolete. Similarly, an important element in many of the novels in the series is the effect of the uterine replicators that free women from the necessity of childbirth.

In general, too, Bujold shows an acceptance of diversity that contrasts with the conservatism of modern space opera. Her Beta Colony is cosmopolitan and liberal, her Jackson’s Whole Libertarian, and her Cetaganda baroquely hierarchal. If Mile’s home planet Barrayar is still emerging from patriarchy and remains a monarchy, these traits are not depicted with any approval, but provide an opportunity for character and social dilemmas – as well, of course, as inviting a comparison with our own culture.

However, while Bujold’s attitudes are refreshing, they are only part of her appeal. A good deal of Bujold’s appeal is her characters: Miles’ mother Cordelia, a Betan who marries the man she defeats in the first book of the series; his father Aral, leader of the Barrayar progressives and a regent who confounds expectations by giving up power; his emperor Gregor, who grows up thoughtful and humane; his cousin Ivan, born to privilege, but redeemed by his laziness and basic decency;; the genetically modified super-soldier Taura, whose fangs conceal a girlish heart, and a dozen more, all of whom are given a convincing inner complexity and their own voice. Bujold even manages to give Miles’ clone Mark a voice that is both reminiscent yet yet different from Miles’ own when he is the viewpoint character.

Then there is Miles himself, an over-achiever compensating for his deformities, by upbringing half an aristocratic Barrayaran and half a liberal Betan. Full of self-doubts, he still emerges as a leader like Lawrence of Arabia who inspires everyone around him to greater efforts than they could manage by themselves. So far during the course of the series, he has gone from the founder and leader of a mercenary fleet to an imperial troubleshooter invalided out of active service, and from a perpetual bachelor to a man in his early thirties forced very much against his will to slow down because of his injuries and find a new life as a husband and father. All the aspects of his personality are not on display at the same time, but overall, Miles emerges as one of the most complex and satisfyingly complete characters in science fiction.

Another important aspect of Bujold’s success is her writing ability. Cover blurbs frequently describe her as witty, and it is true that her characters often banter in a way reminiscent of Dorothy Sayer’s Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey. Also, unless I am mistaken, Bujold  often drops allusions to everything from Shakespeare’s As You Like It and the first meeting of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to John Cleese and Connie Booth’s Fawlty Towers.

All the same, “wit” is not quite the word I would use to describe Bujold’s writing. At times, the comedy is broad as when the woman Miles loves is running away from a banquet at his ancestral home just as his parents return home and he introduces her with, “Mother, Father, let me introduce – she’s getting away!” Similarly, his cousin Ivan interrupts his vows during a marriage of convenience to ask his bride, “what did you say your name was again?”

More often, though, her writing has a wry, even facetious tone that an intelligent person might use to themselves when worried or self-doubting. For instance, here are Miles’ thoughts when he learns that another man has written poetry to the same woman who fled his banquet:

Good God, Enrique was writing poetry to her? Yes, and why hadn’t he thought of poetry? Besides the obvious reason of his absence of talent in that direction. He wondered if she’d like to read a really clever combat-drop mission plan, instead. Sonnets, damn. All he’d ever come up with in that line were limericks.

Obviously, Miles does not mean his thoughts literally. Yet, equally obviously, their not-quite successful lightness is an attempt to cope with the worries that the news causes him.

Bujold’s humor is responsible for the least typical yet strongest novel in the series, A Civil Campaign, which can best be described as a mixture of a Shakespearean comedy and a Georgette Heyer romance. In A Civil Campaign, Miles has fallen in love with a recently widowed woman. Reluctant to intrude on her grief, he decides to court her in secret, while telling everyone except the woman herself about his intentions. Needless to say, everything that can go wrong does go wrong, yet somehow all the plot strands resolve, and at the end, both Miles and the Emperor are both facing marriage. The book is a mixture of all Bujold’s styles of humor, and the only book in years that I have re-read within a couple of weeks of finishing it for the first time.

Having read the complete series to date, I am now embarrassed to have snubbed it for so long. But ignorance is its own punishment, and I can only reflect that my judgment of Bujold’s work by its marketing has deprived me of years of pleasure. Walton, I conclude, is entirely right: Bujold is a writer not only worth reading, but re-reading as well.

I can hardly wait.

Read Full Post »

When I’m an invalid, I want reading that is light, long, and  moderately intelligent. Last week when my left knee decided to complain about its lack of cartilage, my choice was the first half dozen books of Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire or 1632 series. Mostly, the choice fit my requirements, although I have a few reservations about the books.

The premise of the series is simple: A small town in West Virginia suddenly finds itself in Germany in the middle of the Thirty Years’ War. With its technological edge, the town rapidly becomes a major power, allying itself with Gustav Adolphus of Sweden, and history begins to change. Originally a single book, the series has expanded as Flint has thrown open the series to other writers and encouraged fan fiction set in the same universe.

Beyond the actual pages, the series is also interesting because Flint is one of the first science fiction writers to see the possibility in ebooks and free downloads. Although he doesn’t go so far as Cory Doctorow and make all his books available for free downloads, Flint has seen the advantage of releasing his earlier works to keep them available, which means that the first two books in the series are free ebooks.

The series’ attractions are not stylistic ones. Flint and his growing list of co-authors are competent writers at best, and fall into the category of storytellers rather than artists or even strong plotters. Not that there is anything wrong with that; I respect an intelligent light read, and appreciate one in certain moods, such as coming home on public transit at the end of the day or — as recently, when I was doped on ibuprofen.

Rather, the series is interesting for two reasons. First, it deals with European history, a topic that most of his English-speaking audience is likely to know little about. Since the era includes such larger than life characters as Gustav Adolphus, Oliver Cromwell, and Cardinal Richelieu, there is plenty to entertain and inform, although obviously these characters soon start acting in non-historical ways. However, if you do know the characters who appear on its pages, then seeing where and how they depart from our history becomes intriguing – all the more so since Flint and the other writers largely resist the temptation to make antagonists outright or villains.

Second, the early books of the series focus on the West Virginian’s survival strategies. Their technological advantage is limited because they lack the infrastructure to support it, so much of their planning involves figuring how to downgrade their knowledge – for example, they decide to focus on 19th Century firearms rather than modern ones. These survival efforts are all the more interesting because the emergent leader and many of his supporters are unionists, and express a vision of the future that is more idealistic than the conscious or unconscious free market philosophy of most American science fiction.

However, as often happens when you read a series (or a chunk of it) in one sitting, The Ring of Fire series soon reveals itself as formula fiction. Each of the books I have read in the series revolves around a plot against the West Virginians by political opponents. Through devious means and native ingenuity, these opponents seek to even the technological odds against them, but, although these efforts keep the books from being a completely adolescent power fantasy, there is never much doubt that the moderns and their allies will win, amalgamating their noble enemies and forcing the rest into retreat. In other words, American imperialism is still very much a part of these books — even if it is a liberal imperialism — and the outcome is never much in doubt.

Another problem is that the scenes in each book tend to be one of two kinds: talking heads – often politicians – and loving descriptions of battles and action that I can only describe as war-porn.

I can mostly endure the talking heads, although I wouldn’t mind more variation in technique. However, the war porn soon becomes tedious.

By “war porn” I do not mean graphic, nauseating descriptions of violence – which are mostly absent in the series – but a devotion to action sequences for their own sake. For the most part, battles in the Ring of Fire series are not described to give background to individual characters’ actions or to make clear why other events are happening, the way they are in Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series. Instead, from the tone and the undue length of the descriptions, I get the impression that readers are assumed to be as fascinated with the descriptions as the writers are. I’m not, and often amuse myself in them by deciding which scenes could be deleted and thereby speed up the pace of the books.

Yet another problem is the depiction of women. The series is by no means overtly sexist –  although so far, no one has mentioned how family planning might fit into the priorities of the stranded moderns. Rather, the depiction of women tends to be token and limited. With no exception that I can readily recall, major female characters tend have one-note in a way that the male characters don’t: One is an old activist, another wise, another full of revolutionary fervor, and so on. Mostly, too, they tend to be introduced in a quirky love story, after which any attempt to develop them comes to an abrupt halt. I suppose that Flint and the others deserve points for trying, but I’d still like to see one of them tackle a story about a woman with her own concerns someday.

Some of this criticism is probably due to an overdose. After all, no series is supposed to be read over a few days. Still, while I will probably return to the series some time when I want intelligent light reading, for now I find myself in no great hurry to do so.

Read Full Post »

Maybe it’s a character flaw, but nostalgia for a technology puzzles me. My bewilderment has last all my adult life, and now, with the all the sentimental preference for paper books over ebooks, it returns to me stronger than ever.

I first became aware of other people’s technology nostalgia when I jumped from a typewriter to a word processor. Did I miss working with carbon paper, or having the choice of redoing a page because of a spelling mistake or getting liquid paper all over everything? Not for a moment. Revision was so much easier on a computer that I barely looked back. The IBM Selectric that I kept in a back closet just in case languished in obscurity for a decade before I realized that I would never use it.

Yet much to my surprise, many people started romanticizing the typewriter. I could understand veteran writers who after several decades were reluctant to mess with their creative processes. But other people insisted that the hum of the computer kept them from concentrating (apparently the even louder hum of an electric typewriter didn’t). Their thoughts, they insisted, were geared to the tap of the keys (as though a century of using typewriters could have produced any significant natural selection in favor of them).

Soon, distressed typefaces that mimicked typewriters with old ribbons or out of alignment keys became a fashion in graphical design. You still see these typefaces occasionally today, a sentimental attachment to all the inefficiencies of the old technology added with more ingenuity than sense to the new technology.

Now, with journalists constantly trumpeting the death of the paper book, the same thing is happening. Suddenly, people are forgetting the tendency of paperbacks to fall apart after one reading (assuming pages didn’t start flying away before then), and talking about the shape and construction of the book – which is largely an accident of cheap production – as something to get sentimental over. Again, I wonder what they are rattling on about.

Not that ebook readers are perfect technologies. You have to learn exactly how hard to tap a paper if they use a touch screen, and how often to refresh so that you can turn a page without a pause interrupting your reading. Every reader, too, could use twice the resolution, even if they have improved considerably from a decade ago. I admit, too, that the end of the standard two page spread leaves me wondering what to do with my spare hand, and that a single page looks odd to my typographically-trained eye.

The mistake that people make is imagining that the medium is the book– which isn’t true for either paper books or ebooks. If it were, then to get the full experience of Catullus or Cicero, we would have to read them on papyrus scrolls. Shakespeare would have to be read on vellum, and Jonathan Swift and George Eliot on rag paper. All of these are simply media.

The book – the play, the oration or the novel – is the words and how they are put together. And that doesn’t change, regardless of whether we read a clay tablet or have the words beamed directly into our brains. If we remember a particular technology fondly, I suspect that it’s because we transfer the pleasure of the words to the medium in which we read them.

Personally, I neither welcome nor decry the rise of ebooks. They have their points, such as reduced storage space or the ability to change fonts, but that’s not what I notice when I read, any more than I notice the convenience and portability of paperbacks, or the smallness of the loss if they fall into the bathtub. When I read, what I notice is the story or the arguments, and the skill in word use. Should I live long enough to see ebooks replaced by something else, I’ll use that something else, just as I use ebooks now.

Like those who romanticized typewriters, the people currently anticipating the end of paper books have lost sight of what’s important when we read. Maybe they’re just afraid of anything that’s new, but the medium is a minor issues so long as we can read without being distracted by inefficiency or inconvenience. What matters is the words. Always.

Read Full Post »

When I was twelve, I thought J. R. R. Tolkien the greatest writer in the world. By the time I was 15, I was appreciating Shakespeare, and reading systematically through the collected poems of Byron and Shelley. But it wasn’t until after my bachelor’s degree in English that I could read Dickens for pleasure, and I was doing my master’s before I became a fan of Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and the other Victorian novelists. These experiences, I believe, indicate something that is often overlooked in high schools and universities – namely, that you can only read a writer in your own time, and when that time occurs is partly dependent on gender.

The question is not just one of age, although those who try to classify young adult fiction would have you believe everything is that simple. Admittedly, my own trail shows a progression in subtlety, from Tolkien’s action-packed adventures to the verbal cleverness of Shakespeare and the iconoclasm and revolutionary spirit of the Romantic poets (so suitable to a boy who believed in social causes), and becomes increasingly nuanced after that. But it is also a matter of increased experience and perception as well.

Just as few great novels are written by anyone under twenty-five, so few great novels are likely appreciated by men under twenty-five. The majority of teenage boys (and I was no exception) simply don’t have the experience to have developed the taste for demanding works when they’re young. The insights that underlie a novel, let alone the rhythms of a strong prose stylist, represent a kind of aesthetic puberty that teenage boys and young men haven’t reached yet. Few of them can appreciate such things any more than a pre-pubescent child can appreciate the intricacies of sex and love.

By contrast, plot-driven stories such as Tolkien’s seem accessible to males at a relatively young age. You only have to see the selection of blockbuster movies aimed at the taste of young males to see the truth of this fact. In much the same way, as a dramatist, Shakespeare externalizes experience, with introspection served up in the breaks in the action represented by the soliloquy. The shift to perception and point of view that is characterized by the novel is subtler than either – and also a relatively recent literary development, and one that wouldn’t have been possible without adventure tales and plays having been developed first.

The trouble is, the average male adolescent, no matter how full of social causes and good intentions, isn’t socially conditioned to want to seek out a female point of view like Austen’s. The definitions of male sexuality in the culture don’t encourage them to be aware that a female point of view even exists. If they do discover it, they are likely to be too egocentric to care much about it. If they approach it at all, they usually do so with reservations.

With the best will in the world, the female perspective is too foreign to them – and the novel, whoever writes it, has always been more about female perspectives than any other structural genre in English (which is why terms such as “chick lit” are nonsense). The average male in modern industrial culture needs five to ten years of relationships and even marriage to appreciate a socially-centered or psychological novel.

By contrast, the female experience seems quite different. Women start off with an advantage because, if they are interested in adventure at all, they have to learn early how to read around the male dominance in such stories. Probably, too, they are ready for the novel earlier, because its territory is more familiar to them – when I was teaching university English, I couldn’t help but notice that in the novel courses I taught, three quarters of the young students were women, while poetry and drama courses tended to have a slight majority of men.

Middle-age is a great equalizer, and I am glad to have arrived at an age where I can view both Tolkien and Hardy as great writers, each in their own way. But when I think of the gender-influenced delays and detours I took, I wish that I could have more daring or imagination and expanded my horizons more quickly. If I had, I could have had another decade or more to enjoy George Elliot! But, considering the odds, maybe I should just be glad that I managed to reach my current perspective at all.

Read Full Post »

As I write, a local newspaper is gearing up for its annual literacy promotion. The cause is hard to fault, especially if you’re a hyper-literate like me. I can’t help wondering, though, exactly what the organizers mean by “literacy,” except a vague, feel-good cause that everybody supports.

After all, there is something self-serving a newspaper promoting literacy. Is the newspaper really interested in the common good, or simply in ensuring a new generation of readers? In these days when obituaries are being written for beloved old newspapers in particular and the medium in general, I have to wonder.

The trouble is, no one ever seems to identify exactly what they mean by literacy. Even at a minimal level of being able to read street signs, ballots, and government documents, a definition of literacy runs into trouble. After all, exactly what abilities does minimal literacy include? The ability to use a colon or semi-colon properly? An ampersand? A hyphen or forward slash? The knowledge of when to use a list, and what a numbered list signals as opposed to a bullet list? When to use and how to pronounce the accents in words borrowed from other languages? By these standards, very few people would ever be counted as literate, even though all of these questions are relatively elementary.

Similarly, what level of comprehension is implied by the term? Does a person, for instance, need to be able to identify a literary effect? To be able to consciously use those effects themselves?

For that matter, is an awareness of language and how it develops required before someone is literate? If so, then thousands of grammar Nazis who condemn any departure from an artificial standard English would be horrified to learn that they were not literate themselves.

Also, sooner or later, a definition of literacy involves a familiarity with the cultural influences that shape a language. True literacy in English, for example, requires a knowledge of Shakespeare and Christianity (or at least the King James Bible), as well as several dozen other authors and cultural influences.

And what about idioms? Should a person who can write and read a language but not understand an idiom or a pun be considered literate?

Discarding any of these requirements is difficult, but that is only half the problem. The other half is what degree of knowledge or skill a literate person is supposed to have in each of these requirements. How can you measure a concept that, the more you consider it, the more complex it becomes?

No wonder that many educators stick to simpler goals, like standardized spelling. At least with spelling, there is usually a definite right or wrong answer, so long as you stick with official English. But including anything that makes reading or writing seem worth developing means entering a more complex world where right and wrong is qualified and weighted, where – horror of horrors – a student might even be able to question a teacher, provided they know how to construct an argument.

In the end, the concept of literacy seems to come down to what you are pointing to when you use the term. But I would be a lot more comfortable if the promoters of literacy did point to anything. For all I know, their concept of literacy – or, at least, what they are willing to settle for – is far different from my definitions.

I can’t help suspecting that authority figures are automatically hypocritical whenever they talk about literacy. Obviously, a technological society needs higher general standards of literacy than other cultures in order to function, but I always have the nagging suspicion that, when promoting literacy, the Powers That Be would vastly prefer that it not be promoted too far – certainly not to the extent that the average person can deconstruct official pronouncements and maybe question them. In the end, I suspect that the level of literacy they are prepared to settle for is far less than the level I would prefer, and that literacy can be a far more radical concept that everyone assumes.

Read Full Post »

When I’m stressed, I take refuge in the comfort of reading. I have a music player, but somehow it provides less shelter than the right sort of book: One that’s intelligent, but light, with occasional outbursts of humor. And I can think of no books that fit this description better than George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman series. I’ve read each of the twelve books many times, and they never fail to provide a refuge.

The conceit of the stories is that Harry Flashman, the bully from Tom Brown’s Schooldays, grows up to be Sir Harry Flashman, VC, one of the great Victorian heroes – all without changing his basic nature. Despite his public acclaim, he remains a bully, a coward, and a lecher. But through a combination of outrageous luck and fast-thinking, only he knows what he is really like.

Flashman, his first adventure, sets the formula. At the end of the book, the young Flashman is in a fort about to be overrun by Afghani hillfolk. Thinking his life might be spared if he surrenders, he hauls down the flag, but, before he can do more, he collapses. Just then, the relief column arrives, and, finding him collapsed over the flag, concludes that his last thought was to defend that symbol of his country. When he awakes, he is a hero with the thanks of Parliament. This mixture of cowardly motivation and fortunate appearances continues throughout the series, broken only by his thought that he might show courage to save his wife – a thought so unsettling to him that he prays that he will never have to choose between saving her and himself.

Flashman is last seen as an old man in Mr. American, being driven in a car through the crowds towards Buckingham Palace on the eve of World War One. The crowd assumes that he has been summoned to consult with the king, but, for Flashy, the palace is simply the nearest place that he can relieve his ancient bladder.

This basic conceit is intertwined with the ingenuity with which Fraser inserts Flashman into historical events. The result is a kind of prototype for Forest Gump; for instance, during the Battle of Balaclava, Flashman manages to stand with The Thin Red Line, and to charge with both the Heavy and the Light Brigades, troubled by flatulence all the way. In similarly outrageous way (but without the flatulence), Flashman is inserted into every major event in British and American history between 1840 and 1901, and meets everyone of note from Queen Victoria and the Duke of Wellington to Abraham Lincoln, Geronimo, and John Brown. In between, he has affairs with every woman from Lola Montez to the future Dowager Empress of China, proud to be “one who instinctively fornicates in the jaws of death.”

And just to add to the veracity, Fraser is forever mentioning things like an obscure figure in a historical painting who resembles Flashman’s known likenesses. He also includes copious footnotes that compare Flashman’s accounts with the primary sources, explaining where it agrees and doesn’t agree, and where it sheds new light upon events. The truth is, Fraser is a history buff, and the series is largely an excuse to exhaustively research events.

Later books in the series become a little too predictable, but these basic principles are enough to carry even the weakest Flashman book cynically along. In contrast to the bombast of the Victorian Age, in Flashman’s world view, there are no heroes – only conventional, hypocritical cant or dangerous madmen like James Brook, the White Rajah of Sarawak, and George Armstrong Custer, whose charisma drives others to do what they would never otherwise consider.

Flashman’s view, of course, is as false as the one it is meant to deflate, but, like Falstaff, his cowardice becomes a sort of humanism. Is the defense of an invaded country really worth going to war for? He asks several times through the series. All that will happen is that more people will die, and for Flashman, nothing (with the possibly exception of his undeserved reputation) is as important as everyone staying alive at all costs. Frequently, Flashman does act and speak in ways that horrify a modern person, but what mainly comes through is a sort of anti-authoritarianism based on a defence of the creature comforts of life.

At its best, the setup has endless comic opportunities, including variations on the formula. For instance, at first, Flashman’s reputation is preserved only because – like those who discover Superman’s secret identity – those who learn what he is really like fortuitously end up dying before they can discredit him. Later, though, when he breaks down, blubbering and pleading for mercy, his opponents believe it is a ruse, because they cannot believe that such a famous soldier is really a coward. Even if he collapsed on the floor, Flashman says at one point, people would only believe his behavior was a joke in questionable taste.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Fraser himself is the master of the deadpan. For instance, he has Flashman describe his future mother-in-law (in a beautifully Wodehousian phrase) as having “all the faded beauty of a vulture.” Similarly, in Flashman’s Lady, his wife Elspeth features as a kind of Victorian Gracie Allen, with her own brand of illogic and a supreme obliviousness to what is happening around her. In her diary, she notes “there is no Emergency beyond the Power of a Resolute Englishwoman, especially if she is Scotch.”

My only wish is that Fraser had written faster, or lived longer. As it is, while many parts of Flashman’s life are throughly documented, we never do learn how he managed to be a major in the Union forces one year of the American Civil War, and a colonel in the Confederate army the next year (although Abraham Lincoln seems to have had something to do with it). Nor do we know, as Fraser once hinted, whether Flashman really did play a role in the Riel Rebellion.

But never mind. Like many of my favorite TV series that have been canceled before their plots were wrapped up, the Flashman series leaves me grateful for what we have. In times of stress, Flashman can distract me with a detailed view of the nineteenth century and clever writing, and make me laugh at the same time. What more could I ask?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »