August 20, 2004

Gratuitous Llama Vacation Posting - Part 1

I know what you're thinking: Well, Dave, just what did you do on your vacation?

One thing I did was to read books like they were going out of style. Here is my library list for the past two weeks:

- I finished up Christopher Hitchens' George III.
- As a follow-up, I read David Saul's Prince of Pleasure, a biography of George IV. Interesting book, but there was some underlying tension: Saul doesn't like Tories very much, but at the same time has to admit that the Regent and most of his Whiggish set were a bunch of shits as well. The only person who comes out of the whole sordid story of Georgie-Porgie half-way decently is Mrs. Fitzherbert, and she strikes me as a fool.
- I read the first volume of Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples. First rate. Winnie combines a beautifully crisp and clear narrative style with solid insight. It's all I can do to prevent myself from skipping the rest of this set and going straight to his history of WWII.
- Just for laughs, I re-read Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. I am increasingly convinced that his writing is the sort of stuff that is thought clever only by smart-ass teenagers.
- Really just for laughs, I re-read Harold Robbins' The Betsy. (It's kind of a tradition with me - there's an old copy at the cottage and I've got in the habit of reading it every time I go up there.) If ever we started a blog about Truly Bad Books, I'm sure this one would be right up there in the Top Ten. Even the smut is, well, uninspired.
- For genuine chuckles, I re-read Wodehouse's The Code of the Woosters, one of my favorite Bertie & Jeeves novels.
- Finally, the Gods smiled down and, via my in-laws, gave me a copy of Victor David Hanson's Ripples of Battle. I'm about half-way through his assessment of the Battle of Shiloh and its effect on the character and outlook of W.T. Sherman. I don't call VDH "incomperable" for nothing.

Mmmmm.....books. Mmmmmm.

The Missus (bless her) also picked up a couple of new books for my collection from the Southhampton Library sale. First were a couple of books from the Heart of Oak Sea Classics series. One is James Norman Hall's Doctor Dogbody's Leg - a collection of 18th Century seafaring short stories. I don't know anything about it and am eager to take a dekko. The other is James Fenimore Cooper's The Wing-and-Wing. I'm a bit dubious about this one. Not only is Cooper a santimonious blowhard, he's a bloody boring sanctimonious blowhard. I often suspect that the writers on M*A*S*H who always used to go on about how wonderful it was that Hawkeye was named after the hero of The Last of the Mohicans never actually read it.

What else? She also cagged Antonia Fraser's Royal Charles, a biography of Charles II. My mother has a copy that I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to steal for years. Now I won't have to. One of my goals for this fall is to read her biography of Oliver Cromwell and then this one.

Finally, she dug up a short early novel by John Mortimer (of Rumpole fame) called Like Men Betrayed, a story of a lawyer's plunge into the seedier side of London in the 50's to find out what his estranged son is up to. Mortimer is, to me, a hit-or-miss kind of author. We'll see which category this one goes in.

So there you have it.

Posted by Robert at August 20, 2004 04:52 PM | TrackBack

I sooo agree with yu about Vonnegut; cannot abide the man's writing.

I recently bough Jeeves in the Morning; I think The Code... hooked me on Wodehouse.

Posted by: Dan at August 20, 2004 07:23 PM

What? No reread of Emma? FOR SHAME!

On a lighter note, I reread Sense and Sensibility last week and I've come to the conclusion that on the Austen "Good 18C Women" scale, Elinor beats both Lizzie and Emma. (Well, of course she beats Emma, but...well you know:))

Welcome back!

Posted by: Kathy at August 21, 2004 10:44 AM

Elinor definitely beats both Elizabeth and Emma. I said that weeks ago in an early post about your great debate, but I think it got missed in the heat of battle. ;-)

Posted by: jen at August 21, 2004 11:15 PM

I have to confess I have never read S&S. I started it some time back but stopped - can't remember why. So I have no brief on Elinor one way or the other. (Jen - I do remember your remark. But since you refused to take sides in our Emma vs. Elizabeth debate, the rules forbaid me from mentioning it.)

On the other hand, I need not read Emma again to know that Kathleen continues to labour under a sad, sad delusion. Kathy - when are you going to accept this problem and deal with it? Sad. Very sad.

Dan - Welcome to the World of Wodehouse! May I also suggest checking out some of the Blandings Castle novels? Summer Lightning is one of my favorites.

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