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The June Reading List.

with 5 comments

So,  here it is, a couple of days late.  With notes, too, of a sort.



 33) Henry James. Washington Square.

 34) The Rig Veda. Edited and translated Wendy Doniger. Penquin Classics.

          k) Camille Paglia. “The Joy of Presbyterian Sex.”

 35) Joan Hess. Strangled Prose.

 36) C. Northcote Parkinson. East and West.

 37) Dorothy L. Sayers. Strong Poison. (rr)

 38) Bruce Catton. The Coming Fury.

 39) William L. DeAndrea. Killed on the Rocks. (rr)


As usual, I’ve commented on some of these before, so I won’t go into them again. 

I didn’t care for this Parkinson as much as I did the last one.  It’s heavy on prediction and the predictions are often–now that we’ve reached the time when they’d either be actual or not–just plain wrong.

He has a particular kind of British disdain for the United States that leads to a lot of nonsense, particularly the thing about “Britain was Greece and America is Rome” leading to “the United States doesn’t actually invent anything it just builds on what others have invented.”

Those aren’t direct quotes.  I was just trying to find a way to set them off.

At any rate, that last thing had to have been demonstrably untrue even when Parkinson said it, and by now it’s downright ludicrous.

I found a lot of the things he said very interesting, especially the one about how declining societies tend to go in for gambling and superstition, but it was hard to take the  man seriously in any global way when he handed me things like the don’t-invent-anything line.

When I think about what may or may not happen to us in the next fifty years, the one thing that always strikes me is that we are probably the most inventive society the world has ever known–and inventors from elsewhere often pull up stakes and move here.

I don’t think that will save us from Western Civilization’s descent into the insane, but if we have to settle for something less than getting it right the first time, this is the second best I would pick.

Other than that, I just want to do something I don’t very often–recommend a book and a writer and shill for them for all they’re worth.

William L. DeAndrea was, of  course, my husband, but I knew him as a writer before I ever met him face to face.

And he’s a very, very good writer, with a commitment to the kind of light mystery favored by Nero Wolfe (also a big Wolfe fan and a long time member of the Wolfe Pack).

Killed on the Rocks is from his Matt Cobb series, and about halfway through.

The first in the series, Killed in the Ratings, won the Best First Novel Edgar.  The second, Killed in the Act, is my very favorite one.  Killed on the Ice is, very beautifully, dedicated to me.

Bill  had a lot of the kind of bad luck that can sink a career, and ended up winning three Edgars anyway.  He had even worse luck in the realm of hereditary predisposition to disease, and that he didn’t survive.

Before the coming of the e-reader, I thought bringing Bill back to the notice of the wider public was going to require waiting for the boys to grow up so that they could do something, but e-readers are here, and Otto Penzler over at Mysterious Press has brought out a whole set of Bill’s books, the Cobbs and the Benedittis and the Philip DeGraves and the one shots, available for download.

I hope some of you, sometime, will try them.  They’re worth the bother. 

Now it’s the day before the fourth of July, and I’m getting that distinct feeling that I should be off somewhere doing something.

Written by janeh

July 3rd, 2013 at 7:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses to 'The June Reading List.'

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  1. I was, unsurprisingly, more taken with the Parkinson. I didn’t even notice the “America as imitator” trope–but then I’ve gotten so case-hardened I don’t even twitch when some Euro who’s never been west of London or south of Rome calls Americans provincial. He nailed the rise of China, Japan and India, predicted the rise of gambling and superstition in the West, and predicted that the East would draw the line at accepting the value of the individual. We’ll see how that one goes.

    Second the recommendation on DeAndrea, and I particularly recommend the Benedittis. A very talented man, gone too soon.


    3 Jul 13 at 1:32 pm

  2. Parkinson was probably talking about the times in and about WWII when the US collected a whole bunch of British and German technology by fair and sometimes foul means, some of it in fair(ish) exchange for Lend Lease. There’s a long list.

    Some that I can recall off the top of my head include RADAR (including the all-important magnatron), jet engine technology (early American jets were powered by, or by clones of, British engines), and scientific advances in antibiotics and nuclear science, were surrendered free of charge/royalties to the US in part payment for Lend Lease.

    And the stinkin’, rotten thieves also stole Australia’s invention of the distance measuring equipment and other advances in aviation navaid technology, eg multiscan ILS, but that was later.

    This sort of thing has a long history. Having an argument over on RAM with someone who can’t quite rap their head around the idea that Americans shamelessly ripped Dickens and other British authors off by publishing their works without paying royalties. While not for one minute condoning the practice, I always have a bit of a laugh when I read of some American software giant bleating to the courts about their intellectual property. What goes around comes around. :-)


    3 Jul 13 at 10:58 pm

  3. Thanks for the heads up about Mr D’Andria’s books, Jane. I have (and enjoyed very much) the volume of his short stories that you put out a few years ago, so I will be downloading these latest reissues soonest.


    3 Jul 13 at 11:01 pm

  4. It kept on long after Dickens, Mique. There’s a Kipling poem about being ripped off by American publishers. (“Ballad of the Three Captains?”)That gives it about another two generations. And don’t forget the way the New England textile industry was built on copying British machinery. Or look up an American “Grant” tank next to a French Char B or a Cold War US .30 cal next to a late WWII German LMG.(On the other hand, if we could find a way to collect royalties for the invention of interchangeable parts…)

    Almost on point: did you know that as late as Babbage’s day, nuts and bolts in Britain were proprietary? Nuts purchased from one supplier wouldn’t fit bolts purchased from another. At east the computer age has missed the worst of this.

    Naturally, we’re not alone in our thefts, though. British Napoleonic troops fire “Congreve” rockets because calling them “Prevot” rockets would give the game away. In turn, the “French” chassepot rifle is a German “Needle Gun” with a rubber seal added to the breech. And the Old Testament in Greek is still known as the Septuagint (“Seventy”) after the translators, because to a classical or Hellenistic Greek the author of a work was whoever wrote it in Greek.

    There is a long history of filing the serial number off stolen ideas. Remember the old Christopher Anvil story (PANDORA’S PLANET) in which the invading aliens discover how much superior the terran “stitch guns” (machine guns) are to their own “splat guns.” The brightest of the invaders orders “find the factory, put it back into production, and mark all the products ‘official CENTRAN stitch guns.'” SO much wiser than the “not invented here” approach.


    4 Jul 13 at 8:42 am

  5. Ah! And I forgot the bazooka, which we had to copy from the panzerfaust twice because we didn’t get it right the first time, and which we eventually replaced with an imitation panzerschrek, which we call the LAW.
    But you can do pretty much the same for everyone. Perhaps it’s time to recite “When ‘Omer Smote ‘is Bloomin’ Lyre” and have done.


    4 Jul 13 at 12:28 pm

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