Nov. 17th, 2015

fredrikegerman: (hat)
I've been slowly reading my way through the piles of novels I received for Christmas last year. That generally takes me a while as I also get quite a bit of nonfiction and do quite a bit of other reading as well (magazines, technical papers, and so forth). The previous novel I read I described to [livejournal.com profile] desireearmfeldt as "my potboiler". I handed it off to here when I was done as she was curious. The next day she said she'd given up as it was so horribly written. It read a bit like this. But it was a Cathar-vs-Catholic holy grail conspiracy involving Carcassonne rather than Rome.

On Sunday I finally got to pick up Bellman & Black, which I absolutely loved. Great bit of historical fiction – a nice feel for what it means to run an early industrial cloth mill, or what it takes to get a cow out of a ditch without the benefit of machinery. And we are reminded – oh, how we are reminded – of the constant presence of death and mourning in a world of scarlet fever and undiagnosed cardiac disease.

In the end, of course, it's really about the modern obsession with workaholic capitalism. Our hero uses work to escape the need to live and to mourn. And he is able to monetize the gothic in the most apt manner.

I look at the bookmark I placed in the pages – a 1969 Erie Lackawanna pass belonging to my father – and worry that I, too, ultimately became too busy to mourn. I pick up Michael Frayn's My Father's Fortune, which I gave as a gift some five years ago. Opening: 1969. Father, going deaf, walks in the door wearing his hat. I look again at the ticket, and take time to remember.

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