03 August 2007

Library Books

• Angels in the Gloom, Anne Perry
Third in her World War I series.

followed by

• Some Disputed Barricade and We Shall Not Sleep, the end of the series.

I gave the first book in this series a unfavorable review, but then gave the second book a chance and found it easier to swallow, with the main characters becoming more well-rounded. I actually enjoyed the last few and was of course interested to know who turned out to be "the Peacemaker."

• In Love With Norma Loquendi, William Safire
Another collection from Safire's On Language column. Didn't enjoy this one as much as the others; not sure why.

So I brought back two books to the library, looked around—and came home with six (granted, this was because this is a library that is not close to our house and I would not go there often, so I figured I'd better get them while I was there).

• Aliens in the Backyard: Plant and Animal Imports into America, John Leland
Absolutely fascinating book about...well, title tells all. There are the obvious ones, going back before the development of the US (horses, pigs, smallpox) and afterwards (kudzu, starlings, sparrows), but also things like armadillos, bermuda grass, the potato bug, etc. Very readable and not stodgy as one might expect.

• Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life, Jack Santino
Essays about Hallowe'en and celebrations of that ilk and time of year. Very interesting essay on Bonfire Night in Newfoundland and also an examination of placing Hallowe'en decor on children's graves; several essays on pranking in "the good old days" (outhouses tipped, buggies put on roofs, etc.) One particular essay brought back forgotten memories: Hallowe'en noisemakers! I remember the sale of these in Woolworths and Kresges back in the early 1960s, then they vanished. It was common for the older kids who were too old for trick or treat to go out in costume with noisemakers to make a racket as well as frighten the younger children.

• Lusitania, Diane Preston
Preston does an admirable job of recreating the era, the shipboard experiences, the harrowing experiences and the aftermath of the sinking of the luxury liner by German U-boats. The bravery of the survivors who floated for hours in the cold water of the North Atlantic is particularly memorable.

The final two were interlibrary loans:

• Cyberspaces of Their Own: Female Fandoms Online, Rhiannon Bury
Bury examines two internet fandoms—the David Duchovny Estrogen Brigade and fans of Ray Kowalski (and his relationship with Benton Fraser) from Due South—with special emphasis on community and communication (and the inevitable fandom fallouts) online.

• The Democratic Genre: Fanfiction in a Literary Context, Sheenagh Pugh
Pugh takes a different tack on the subject of fan fiction, that of its literary worth. She makes excellent points in regarding well-written, well-thought out fanfiction as of the same caliber as professional sequels to classic books and television tie-in novels. (Frankly, having read both, I can tell you that there is much fanfiction better than some of these published efforts. I've tossed several Star Trek novels against the wall.) She examines five fanfiction communities revolving around Jane Austen's fiction, a British police procedural The Bill, the Horatio Hornblower films, Blake's 7, and Lord of the Rings (both novels and film), but touches on other fandoms briefly as well.

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