Undiminishing Returns

18 June 2002

Hey, it's Matt's birthday! Happy birthday, Matt!

I'm still a celebrity at the post office. Hee.

I also went to the library yesterday and got a bunch of books, including The Zucchini Warriors, which I read last night. Oh my. Alec recommended this series -- Macdonald Hall books, Bruno and Boots books, whatever you want to call them -- and this one was good. Amusing children's books. ("Boots" still associates with my cousins' dog for me, but never mind that now.) They did, however, have one of the cardinal sins of the actual physical production of a book: they were part of a series, but none of the books I could find in that series listed which other books were in that series, and in what order. So I could tell that there were books that came before, I just didn't know which ones they were, if the library even had them. I hate that. What is the point of that? Other than frustrating the reader, I mean. Argh. Luckily, Korman did a decent job of introducing the characters and situation efficiently. But still, I have no idea which one is first, or whether the library has it.

I also finished Pat Barker's Regeneration, which went on the used bookstore list so I can look for my own copy. Good stuff, and I think it's good for me to read this sort of thing while I'm working on the Not The Moose Book, because the characters in the first half of the NTMB have all been scarred by war, too. Different war, of course, and different circumstances, but it does help to get into a similar mindset. I don't know if I can attribute the good work I did yesterday on the NTMB to what I was reading, but it certainly couldn't have hurt. I'm glad David has the last two in the series for me to borrow, but I have the feeling I'll want to own them, too.

I watched "Ghost World" last night. There were some things in it that were quite well done, but it won't make my favorite movie list. One of the things I did like, though, was that they handled the power dynamic in Enid and Seymour's relationship in a pretty real way, not in a knee-jerk older man/younger woman, he-has-the-power-unless-she-cries-rape way. Enid had the power in that relationship, and it had nothing at all directly to do with her age or the cops or her father, and that was quite well done.

I've watched a lot of movies, for me, lately, and I find that there's a law of diminishing returns. I think after I watch "Better Off Dead" tomorrow, I'll want to take a break from movies for awhile. Which just highlights that I don't find that to be the case with books, or not nearly so much so. When I read eleven books in a day on the flight back from home (and, more to the point, in the airports waiting to fly back), a few of you confessed to being alarmed. (Although, as I keep pointing out whenever it comes up, many of them were rather short books.) But the thing is, when I'm not reading, it's almost never because I don't want to read. It's almost always because I do want to do something else in specific. Reading is almost always a reasonable activity for me.

And I don't even really get burned out on genre stuff -- well, in my own genre. In mysteries, sure, and I don't think it would take much of romances or westerns to burn me out. And sometimes I have a bit too much of a subgenre and need to flee to an opposing subgenre. (Cyberpunk to high fantasy, say, or space opera to slipstream, if I understand slipstream correctly now.) But generally, I run out of energy before I run out of the will to read.

(Sometimes this is a problem. My aunt Dor, when I was little, would try to get me to go lie down with a book, thinking I'd fall asleep while reading. While reading. Not even while thinking about the book, which is how I fall asleep when I fall asleep "reading" as an adult. But as a kid, I had too much focus even for that, and if I was reading, I was going to keep at it as long as I was allowed. My mom tried to tell Aunt Dor. She finally got the picture when I was maybe 9 or so.)

One of the nice things about sitting at Au Coquelet with Zed and Alec listing books last time was that I got rid of the feeling that I knew, more or less, everybody who was out there writing speculative stuff and had not come out of left field just a minute ago. Sometimes I read enough in this genre and pay enough attention to journals and magazines that I feel like I know of everyone who writes in the field. And that's not true, and I like it not being true. I like that Zed could say "Rachel Pollack" and I could dutifully write down the two Rachel Pollack books he mentioned and return from the library with Unquenchable Fire (which I started last night before bed), and never have heard of the author before he said her name. It was nice. Rare, but nice.

Sometimes my well-ordered lists, my library list and my used bookstore list, are dizzying. They just keep growing. There's always more. This is what I like about other people: they keep thinking of stuff. Well, it's not the only thing I like about other people. But it's definitely up there.

I'm hoping to get to a used bookstore in the next several days. We're definitely going to Zed's improv show up north on Saturday, and I'm trying to figure out whether we can or should make it to Datlow's reading in the City that afternoon. Either way, we'd have several used bookstore options. I'm also jonesing for Zachary's pizza, bad, so I'm hoping that since it's north, and so is Zed's show, we can figure something out. Sometimes living in Hayward is its own special problem. It's close enough to other things that we can do a bunch of them, but far enough away that we have to actively plan most social stuff. There is no dropping by. There is no last minute. The last minute is at least an hour before anything starts.

I don't really have anything else to say, I don't think. I'm just procrastinating on getting in the shower and procrastinating on working on the book, and what does that make me? Yes, it's true: a lollygagger.

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