A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony – typical Anthony

A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth #1)A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read, and remember liking, this back when it came out. While Anthony is an anachronism today, he was one even when this was published in 1977. His sexism is pervasive – integral to the story? no; seems he just like being perverse. Some is couched: on page 53 of the paperback, he has a farmer laughing about the main character accidentally groping a female centaur and then he says that farmers had “an earthy sense of humor”. “Earthy”? “Lecherous” or “vulgar” is correct in the context he created. Constant references to females growing “shrewish”, or losing their looks…

And some is not couched. Only 3 pages after the “earthy” commentary, he describes a date rape surrogate trial (to protect innocent parties) with the outcome that would make a good ol’ boy, or a billionaire golf course owner, smirk. And two pages after that, a bit character, talking to the main character about an attractive female participant in the acted out trial: “Better have Wynne show you.” “Wynne?” “Your opposite. The one you almost raped.” [Note, the main character was conscripted to play a role, and the outcome, as noted, was in the favor of the male players…] “Not that I blame you.”

Yes, he went there. And that is a theme/attitude common throughout the first third of this book. Do we dismiss Anthony’s deplorable references for culturally relative reasons, or do we hold him accountable? I regret introducing Xanth to my third son, who read nearly all of the series (I stopped after four – and the fourth was pushing it too far.) As a teen, I seemed to have been largely oblivious to Anthony’s sexism, but it bothered me as an adult when I read some of his other series.

Now…there’s actually a decent story in here, despite Anthony. [Yes, I know…because of Anthony]. I will probably reread the other two of this trilogy to see if Anthony’s style – intriguing first novel of a trilogy, weak filler middle novel, sometimes okay conclusion – fits my memory. Now, I know that this particular series went beyond three…he’s still writing these things… It’s almost as if he’s in competition with himself to see how many inane stretches of wordplay he can work into every page. And they often get in the way of a potentially good story.

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Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time by Simon Garfield

Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With TimeTimekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time by Simon Garfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published in the UK in 2016, this is due to be published in the U.S> in 2019, and I got a review copy from NetGalley.

Garfield writes a easy read, smoothly transitioning between his explorations of how we observe, mark, display, portray, are influenced by, and bound to time. From faster ways of getting to one place from another (speed records of trains in the 19th century), timing of Beethoven’s symphonies, breaking a four minute “barrier” (I detest that term in its colloquial context, but whether sensational or lazy on the part of writers, it’s a common fallback) for a human mile-runner, time management, movie-making, historically long speeches…there’s something here that should interest just about anyone. Of course, there are elements that are not of interest to everyone (which some readers/reviewers lazily identify themselves as “bored”) – details of watchmaking probably don’t hold as much fascination for others as they do for me.

I think there is a good deal more exploration and Garfield did a very good job with his.

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The Princess Bride by William Goldman…about time!

The Princess BrideThe Princess Bride by William Goldman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Filed under Books I Should Have Read Already. Underlined.

Wonderful. This might well be the first book I’ve read that the movie is as good as, and vice versa. It helps that Goldman wrote the screenplay and that Reiner was so brilliant in reflecting the vision Goldman so delightfully crafted.

I admit reading in the voices of the actors – who wouldn’t?! Okay, I know one person who has never seen the movie (note to self: get him a copy!) Iconic.

I can’t gush enough over this. Why did it take me so long to read??? And why did I put it down half read for three weeks?

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There’s always another horizon…

I’m 56 years old and as my dear wife is fond of saying about herself, I’m of a certain age…

Today, I’m of a certain age at which I contemplate horizons. Oh, not what you think (though that “certain age” does lend itself to such ruminations)… we all have many horizons that we may or may not chase, and that we may not or may want to cross. Continue reading