Monday, June 11, 2012

just a quick little post

Over the weekend I finished Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life and then read Ruth Rendell's Road Rage. At Home was very, very enjoyable; Bryson attempts to put his discussions of living standards and their changes through the centuries in some order, based on rooms (each chapter is titled "The Kitchen", "The Dining Room", etc.), but he mostly just bounces all over the place with his facts and tangents. I am fine with this, since I like the way his mind works, but I can see how someone else might be annoyed by the lack of cohesion.

In some of his more recent books (especially The Mother Tongue and Made in America), Bryson offered up apocryphal stories and/or debunked urban legends as fact, and took some guff for it in reviews. He has clearly taken that to heart, if we can judge by the number of times in At Home he qualifies his claims by saying, "This is the generally accepted story, but we don't really know," or something equivalent. I appreciate that. In all, a very funny and interesting book, even if there is a glaring Shakespeare misquote* in it (I did read it on the Kindle, and I know that sometimes e-reader versions have typos, but I didn't come across any other errors). That threw me off in a big way. Other than that, I can recommend it.

Rendell's Road Rage, another Inspector Wexford mystery, was utterly engrossing. In the last one I read (The Babes in the Wood), the scene-setting was more important than the actual mystery, and it sort of petered out. This one kept me up late to find out what happens next.

Is it just me, or are over-exuberant environmentalists used as punch lines in British novels all the time? The Brits seem to have little patience for people who are demonstrative enough to live in trees. This is one of the many things which make me frequently believe I live in the wrong country.

Also this weekend, I saw "Prometheus", which is terrible, but I should have known it would be terrible. Note to self: if a movie title makes reference to the subtitle of a book you hate, don't let yourself believe it's a coincidence.

And, in kitchen news, I finished stripping the last cabinet. It turns out that the two doors on it are completely different shades of wood, both from each other and from all the other doors. Don't quite know what I'm going to do about that.

*The line, from King John, is misquoted as "grief fills the room up of my empty child". It's "absent child". "Empty" doesn't even make sense.


  1. At the intersection of Bryson and over-exuberant environmentalists is his A Walk In The Woods, easily my favorite of his by far.

    Also: is the dog reading Foucault? Just asking.

    1. Oh, I love A Walk in the Woods. So sad in parts, though.

      Yes, Bingley is reading Foucault. Which is more than I have ever managed.