My reading habits this month have been a bit uncharacteristic. I decided to try and take a month off written sf, but have spent so long stuck in traffic jams in the morning that I read both Gather, Darkness! and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom on my Palm Pilot while waiting for the car in front to move. In fact that is not all; I managed another three e-books in the last couple of weeks, and still hope to finish Plato’s Republic. The paper books I’m currently reading are Bruce Feiler’s Walking the Bible, Lin Carter’s Tolkien, and Dirk Jan Eppink’s Nederbelg, all three non-fiction. And the three paper books I’ve read this month are one literary biography, one contemporary history, and one classic (non-sf) novel.
Anyway, the three e-books I have read are:
6) A Turkey Travelogue, by Mark Leeper. Irritatingly formatted so that each day was a single huge long paragraph (the various web versions seem better). Reading about other people’s holidays, especially if you don’t know them, is less boring than reading about their dreams, but more boring than reading about their sex lives. I suspect that Evelyn Leeper’s diary of the same trip is more interesting (I’ve only skimmed it on the odd website). Mostly the observations are fairly standard, and the short sentences give the narrative a rather irritating staccato feel, but I got the feeling towards the end that he was waxing lyrical, in passages such as:
Years ago when we visited a place that no longer exists by the name of Leningrad we went to see a dance show. They were folk dances and at the height of the dance they brought a bear onto the stage. We really enjoyed the night. Since then my acid test for a dance piece is would it be improved by bringing a bear onto the stage. Few pieces of modern dance can stand up to the bear test.
7) Beasts and Super-Beasts by Saki. Just fantastic. Starts off with “The She-Wolf”, in which a supposed practitioner of Siberian magic gets his comeuppance. Includes also such highlights as “The Open Window” and “The Story-Teller”.
8) Reginald In Russia, also by Saki. Apart from the title story, contains little information about Russia or Reginald. Not as good as the other collection. Does have one or two stories of interest for my work, eg “The Lost Sanjak” and “The Soul of Laploshka” (“Laploshka said nothing, but his eyes bulged a little and his cheeks took on the mottled hues of an ethnographical map of the Balkan Peninsula.”).
All three are available for free from Project Gutenberg.