There are plenty of memes that want to know all about your book history and your all-time greats and your grand ambitions, but let’s focus on something more revealing: the books you’re actually reading now, or just read, or are about to read. Let’s call it The Immediate Book Meme.
Sounds like fun. Here’s my answers to the stated questions:
1. What book are you reading now?
Somewither, by John C. Wright. Read this over a period of a couple months, rereading it now as I feel haven’t really given it its due. It’s a weird combination of goofy and profound, high-brow slapstick and baroque language and imagery. But that, or most of that, can be said of most of his works.
Still rereading A History of Education in Antiquity. It’s fun. Unlike reading about American and specifically American Catholic education history, it doesn’t make my blood boil or head spin. It’s also just great to see how different people view education, their goals and methods. Reinforces how ahistorical and bizarre current methods are – assuming education in any coherent sense is what you’re trying to do.
2. What book did you just finish?
Mission: Tomorrow, a compilation by a pantheon of modern SciFi writers on the theme: now that NASA is all but dead and private interests are getting into space, what now? Mike Flynn, who contributed a good story to this collection, actually has a series of novels beginning with Firestar that expand on this very theme. In both the novels and the short story, he makes use of the social arrangements and sensibilities of the Age of Sail, cowboys, frontiersmen, as well as geeks and business people and more traditional space jockeys, in giving verisimilitude to his cast of characters. It’s both amusing and convincing. Why wouldn’t the barkeep be like a saloon keeper in an old Western, or the investigator like Phillip Marlowe?
Anyway, I’ll do a detailed review in next few days. It’s a good collection, well worth the read.
The Iron Chamber of Memory, John C. Wright. Man, I still have a foot or more of shelf space tied up by Mike Flynn and John C. Wright novels I have yet to read. But at least I got to this one! A very odd story that, at first, frankly, left me feeling like I was just being jerked around by all the unrequited love and confusion despite all the clues that All Is Not As It Seems. In the last half, though, we start peeling through the onion only to find it’s not an onion at all its – nope, not that either, until we come to discover… Well, better stop there. The ending is oddly tear-jerking, even though it satisfies everything that was set up – except that the world is now so different, it seems like tragic loss, which it is….
Very well and beautifully written. I’ll give it a full review – you know the drill.
God, Robot, another compilation, on the idea of Theological Robots – what happens if the Three Laws are replaced by, instead, the Two Great Commandments? What, indeed. Well, a bunch of good to great writer, the latter set including John C. Wright (natch), L. Jagi Lamplighter (John’s wife) and the much maligned Vox Day, took it on. I don’t think I’d read any of Lamplighter’s or Day’s fiction before – both are very talented writers. Lamplighter, who got the closing story (I don’t know how the editor, Anthony Marchetta, arranged this – did he assign parts?) was remarkable, taking a weirdly grim premise and making something weirdly luminous out of it.
Anyway, yada yada.
3. What do you plan to read next?
Souldancer, by Brian Niemeier. More SciFi. This is the sequel to Nethereal, a bizarre and mind-bending space opera about pirates and Hell. Dante meets a more troubled and moral Jack Sparrow. Something like that. This book promises to expand on What the Hell Was That All About? Introduced in the first book. Ya know?
If I’ve not sated my thirst to get away from education and Hegel reading after Souldancer, I’ll read some more Flynn, Wright or Gene Wolfe – or hit some more classic SciFi. Then back to the salt mines (typo-ed ‘salt minds’ – Freud might be beaming from wherever in Hell I imagine he’s roasting in my less charitable moments) of education History and Phenomenology of Spirit.
4. What book do you keep meaning to finish?
Phenomenology of Spirit. Grim duty time. Although sometimes Hegel is almost a guilty pleasure, with the right attitude. Almost. I’m weird.
War and Peace – got about 500 pages into it about 30 years ago, and – I’m a fraud! I admit it! How can anybody NOT have read W&P? Exposed, I am! Does having read a bunch of Hegel, Kant and Fichte, not to mention Cervantes and Dante, get me any slack? I imagine not. And my knowledge of Shakespeare is woefully inadequate… There are too few hours in the day…
5. What book do you keep meaning to start?
There’s this pile, see…. About 2’ of shelf space is tied up with education history, studies and biographies, not to mention stuff on my Kindle. So there’s that.
6. What is your current reading trend?
Right now, I’m taking a break from Hegel and Education to read some SciFi. That should tie me up through the end of the year, at least.
Then, the plan over the next couple years is to reread a bunch of Aristotle, Plato and Thomas, a bunch of mythology (that’s another growing pile) and more general history – I particularly want to know more about Al Smith’s campaign, and the anti-Catholic backlash his crushing defeat had in the Democratic Party – FDR had NO high-profile Catholics in his administration, which was probably the price of getting elected, which he gladly paid, by all accounts.
But I need to investigate.