Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (2008)

Author: Rick Perlstein

Title: Nixonland:The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

Format: hardcover

Pages: 881

Series: –

Something a bit different today. I know, I know, except for Pokemon there hasn’t been much fantasy/SF on our blog lately 😉 I promise that’ll change… at some point, certainly. There will be new Marlon James book review coming soon, at least ;). But for now, a totally non-fiction, modern history book.

We live in interesting times, that’s for sure. Wars, pandemics, economic crises, global warming… The list goes on and on. But because we are so deeply enmeshed in our everyday life, we tend to forget that this uniqueness, this craziness, is in fact nothing new. That not long ago, the world was an even crazier place, at least in some localities ;). That, compared to those not so olden times, our present time is actually quite tame. If you thought Trump was something else, a new phenomenon, think again. Or even better, read Nixonland.

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Kiyohiko Azuma, Yotsuba&! (2003-today)

Author: Kiyohiko Azuma

Title: Yotsuba&!

Series: manga slice-of-life/shoujo

Yotsuba&! is a slice of life manga depicting the life of a little eccentric girl in a small Japanese town. Piotrek waxed lyrical about this manga before, many times, and for a long time I just nodded amiably and continued not to read it ;). I guess tastes change, though, and about a year or two ago I gave Yotsuba&! a try – and never regretted it. While it starts slowly and somewhat clumsily, it quickly finds a way to one’s heart. Admittedly, the first few tankobon volumes were just okay for me, and filled me with suspicious questions, such as “how a single male in early thirties can become an adoptive father of a four-year-old girl?” or “why are we seeing a spread of a teenage girl showing off her curves to a bunch of single guys twice her age?” Yup, I had my doubts. For a “realistic” manga, a slice-of-life comedy, this was going in strange directions.

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Philip Caputo, A Rumour of War (1977)

Author: Philip Caputo

Title: A Rumour of War

Format: Paperback

Pages: 354

Series: –

This book deserves all the laudatory reviews and paeans it can get. I could actually leave my review at that, but, you know, I was never known for short reviews, let alone one-sentence ones. 😉 I’ll keep my review short this time, though. But before I delve into it I need to write a little about my recent absences from the blog, as it looks as if the situation will continue.

So, life has this habit of getting in the way of the best laid plans, and while I had planned to keep my engagement with this blog on the same levels as last year, it clearly isn’t happening. I might go deeper into various reasons that conspired to result in this particular effect, but in truth, it’s all rather boring, usual stuff 😉 In short: more things to do, on many fronts, and some decisions to make for the future. I will be on the blog as often as I can, but just so you know, in the next few months it won’t be as often as it had been before. I will still continue to haunt your blogs and comment, hopefully more often than not, and whether you want it or not, but I won’t be “here” that much 😉

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R.J. Barker, The Bone Ship’s Wake (2021)

Author: R.J. Barker

Title: The Bone Ship’s Wake

Format: paperback

Pages: 493

Series: The Tide Child #3

First things first: I actually managed to finish a trilogy by R.J. Barker, so I feel very self-congratulatory. Yay me! Secondly, though, I only managed to finish it because, unlike The Wounded Kingdom trilogy, this one was interesting enough for me to follow it to the end ;). Although I might have made a strategic error in waiting with the review, as my initial enthusiasm waned somewhat. Still, it’s a pretty decent book, almost right to the end.

The two earlier installments, The Bone Ships and Call of the Bone Ships, were very enjoyable seafaring yarn: tall ships, pirates, remote islands, sea dragons, storms and adventure, and a dream of Libertalia thrown in the mix. The motif of changing the unfair status quo, of fighting for social justice for the outcasts and the unfit, of challenging the rule of the dominant caste – all this for me formed the backbone of the previous two books. While The Bone Ships focused mostly on character development, the broader intrigue and worldbuilding became more apparent in the Call of the Bone Ships. I expected The Bone Ship’s Wake to offer some resolution to the above quandary, to show us how the idealistic dream can be realized, at least in part, in the very strict, increasingly beleaguered societies of constant scarcity. Woe is me. I guess I expected too much.

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Barry Hughart, Bridge of Birds (1985)

Author: Barry Hughart

Title: Bridge of Birds

Format: paperback

Pages: 278

Series: The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox #1

This story is advertised as “a novel of an Ancient China That Never Was.” It’s a very subtle claim, one that gives an insight into what type of novel Hughart wrote: wistful, whimsical, full of wonder, benevolently sarcastic, witty and self-aware, and most importantly, incredibly optimistic. I really didn’t know how much I needed such a book – until I read it.

“RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

IT IS THE PLAGUE OF

THE TEN THOUSAND

PESTILENTIAL PUTRESCENCES!”

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