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Back when I was supposed to doing May Post-a-Day Alfred turned 11. This was his first birthday since his best friend died and I wanted to post photos of Alfred wearing a hat and of the little Spinone puppy our friends got now that Denali is gone. But!!!!

Total technical failure.

Had a little temper tantrum. Bad words were spoken. May ended. Just got over it today.

So I thought I would share the struggle I'm having learning to read. Has this happened to any of you? I mean obviously I can read. I have a history as a reader...but no future. Some combination of old age, technology and sleep deprivation have divorced me from my reading past. And I don't finish anything anymore. (I'm also having trouble watching television, but that is too weird so I won't ask for sympathy.)

So in May/June I tried to read Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

It should be easy, right? The guy wrote for Dr.Who, it's all fast paced and witty, there's magic and some noirish detecting...It's really pretty good. It just goes by too quickly for me and itemizes too many nouns: streets, cars by make, body parts.

Maybe I'm not used to reading things by men nowadays? *ducks for cover after sexist remark* I just don't care about this Peter, magician,rookie cop who sees dead people. It is good for learning about London, though, and I suspect would probably read a lot faster for someone who was familiar with the city and who would say "Oh Yeah" every time a reference pinged instead of desperately trying to picture it.

There are some good things about it. His nasty characatures of city people are spot on. This one is useful for talking about the next book, so I'll quote it:

Detective Chief Inspector Alexander Seawoll was a big man, coming in a shade under two meters, barrel-chested, beer-bellied with a voice that could make the windows shake. He was from Yorkshire or somewhere like that and, like many Northeners with issues, he'd moved to London as a cheap alternative to psychotherapy.

This seems like an awesome series. Please read it for me and tell me if it's worth soldiering on

Then at my husband's suggestion I read (half of) Hunting the English: The Angry Isle by A.A GillI can see why the guy wouldn't write out his full name. He must be having a hard time facing his neighbors. It's just...not very nice. The sterotype above is kinda spot on. To be fair many of the generalizations within the book are interesting, too. I thought the one about voices was neat because it described the hodge-podge fake Cockneyish accent I used to hear on the British equivalent of House Hunters before BBC America rearranged its coorporate goals and lost me as a viewer (see above: no longer able to watch television.) It would be too obvious to say that the angry part is a wee bit of projection, so we're going to pretend I haven't said it.

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. This is the one I finished.This is a beautiful book and I enjoyed it even though I hated the writer quite a bit for being so goddamned sweet, clever and successful and for making all those coy references to where she lived when she could just say she's in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and get it over with. Ahem

There's a lot of talk about whether this is literary criticism or memoire or biography or reporting. It's a personal essay. By a bookish English girl who became an adult as a reporter in New York. All of those things are shifting tides, but she scoops all the sand back up without effort. Sigh. I appreciate the personal essay because, like all Americans, I've had oodles of my education time spent on those. Never have I read one so good.

If you've ever played the game, "Who do you identify with in Middle March?" this one's for you. Possibly if you were a women's study major and/or you kind of thoughtVirginia Wolfe was a bit of a bitch about George Eliot, you might also enjoy it. Or if-like fanfiction readers- you want your experience of a story to come spilling back out into a new story.
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