WWW Wednesday 1-7-2015

by Brenda W. Clough

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

What are you currently reading?

The Art of the English Murder: From jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock, by Lucy Worsley. This turned up on the new book shelf at the library and I could not resist. And because it is new it is bumped up to the front of the TBR line, since I won’t be able to renew it. A survey of how murder was regarded, from 1811 (the Ratcliffe murders) to WW2. From bloodcurdling to sensationalism to cerebral puzzle and then back around again to blazing guns and flowing gore, how the crime is presented in fiction is a fascinating study.

 Beyond Grief: Sculpture and Wonder in the Gilded Age Cemetery, by Cynthia Mills. I am writing this for review, Elsewhere, but it actually is close enough to my period to be useful in my other identity as well. The impulse to commemorate one’s lost beloved is ancient, one of the markers of humanity in fact. Archaeologists know it is a grave, and not just an accidental burial, when there are grave-goods or other markers. This book ranges from the conception and creation of the Adams memorial by Saint-Gaudens to the founding of Stanford University, which is a memorial to the young Leland Stanford Jr. — the Stanford family mausoleum is right in the middle of the campus. This is a lovely volume, profusely illustrated with reproductions and plates. And since the author goes into the stories of the deceased and how the survivors chose their commemoration, you get a great deal of the period and its expectations and emotions about love and grief.

What did you recently finish reading?

Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England, by Sarah Wise When one is writing about confining lunatics in the 19th century, there are rich fictional resources. Bertha Mason in Jane Eyre, Anne Catherick in The Woman in White — it was a favorite literary trope, for the same reason we write about terrorism and nuclear war. Defining lunacy and doing something about it was a major social problem.

The laws in England at that time were like a sieve. It was not at all difficult to cook up some rackety evidence, pay off a shady doctor or two to sign off on the certificates, and then slam your rich aunt, irritating parent, pushy daughter or estranged spouse into the madhouse for life. Everybody knew this was a horrific problem, and novelists and newspapers kept the pot aboil with blood-curdling accounts of sane people dragged off the street and incarcerated in dreadful conditions. (The Victorian reader would have recognized that Bertha Mason was actually being sumptuously and very kindly treated by Mr. Rochester; note that Jane Eyre herself never deplores Rochester’s treatment of his loony wife.)

The 19th century was when they tried to deal with it, enacting laws, having the gigantic loopholes laid bare in the press, and then laboriously closing the loopholes until the next one turned up. Inconvenient People is the only nonfiction work I have found on the subject, and it goes into this in detail, possibly too much detail for the casual reader. But if you’re writing a book, my goodness! Do not miss this. It is full of ghastly accounts and hair-raising family dynamics, and you can close the book, take a Xanax, and thank God that mental issues are no longer being treated by cold-water dousings out of buckets.

What do you think you’ll read next?

As usual I yearn to read something completely different. At the World Fantasy Convention I picked up a copy of The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. With luck nothing will intervene and I will actually be able to read it. And I have one of those Spine bookcases in my bedroom solidly full of the TBR pile, which is better than stacking the books up around my bed, right?

The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe. And it is available now in an audio book edition which is read by Bronson Pinchot!

How Like a God, by Brenda W. CloughMy newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.

I also have stories in Book View Café’s two steampunk anthologies, The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II, as well as in BVC’s many other anthologies, including our latest, Beyond Grimm.

Share

Comments

WWW Wednesday 1-7-2015 — 11 Comments

  1. Currently reading:
    Full Fathom Five, Max Gladstone
    Academic Exercises, K.J. Parker

    Recently read:
    Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
    Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson

    Next: Not sure yet. I have a pile of hardcovers including Cibola Burn, The Three-Body Problem and The Revolutions that I need to hit. OTOH, I have a bunch of business and con trips looming, so perhaps one of the many paperbacks on my TBR bookcase is a better choice.

  2. Since last posting:

    Read:
    Living the Dream: A Mutts Treasury by Patrick McDonnell
    Steadfast by Jack Campbell
    Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell
    Awake in the Night Land by John C. Wright
    Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide To The Economy by Thomas Sowell
    Monster Hunter Vendetta by Larry Correia
    This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
    The Weaving of a Dream by Marilee Heyer
    English Fairy Tales and More English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs
    Reading:
    Folktales from Korea by Zong In-Sob
    To Read:
    William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher