reading tiger

Books I have read recently but have little to say about, a list

* Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi (thumbs up)
* Black Wave, Michelle Tea (conditional thumbs up)
* Ambassador, William Alexander (children's book, major thumbs up, but also major cliffhanger so buy it with the sequel, see below)
* The Refrigerator Monologues, Catherynne Valente (thumbs up)
* Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon (thumbs up)
* Miss Rhythm, the autobiography of Ruth Brown (because I was working on a profile of Brown for NPR (!!!)) (thumbs up, it won an award for a reason)
* maybe some things that were not thumbs up? And they have thus escaped my mind.

Now reading:

* The Art of Flavor, by Mandy Aftel and Daniel Patterson
* Nomad, William Alexander
* several new cookbook acquisitions
* a big honkin' second-language acquisition textbook
reading tiger

(no subject)

OK, I also have to admit to one tiny personal disappointment with The Girl With All The Gifts. It is possible that what I am about to discuss could be considered a spoiler, so proceed at your own discretion. Also there are mildly gory true-life biological experiment details involving animal subjects below.

Back in high school, I worked on a toxicology study for a summer. We were working to answer a certain question about delayed neurotoxins (i.e. organophosphates). Typically, after being exposed to delayed neurotoxins, vertebrates such as chickens, cats, ferrets, mink, and humans experience progressive neurological impairment over the course of days or weeks, especially of their back or lower limbs.

In chickens at least, however, immature chicks seem to be immune to the effects of this class of delayed neurotoxins. At the time, nobody knew why. Was it because their digestive systems were too undeveloped to absorb the toxins? That was one hypothesis.

So we bypassed the digestive system entirely by injecting organophosphates into days-old chicks intravenously, intramuscularly and intraperitoneally. Plus the control group, of course.

Then we pureed their brains (not all of them, only 50%, just like Dr. Caldwell) and tested them for the presence of neurotoxic esterase (NTE), an enzyme which would indicate that the compound had been absorbed and metabolized.

NTE was present in all the dosed chicks. The chemical was absorbed just fine. So we watched the other half of the chick population for limb impairment over the course of a month or so.

No impairment.

The compound was swimming around in the chick's bodies; it just wasn't having any effect on their nervous system.


Except not, because instead there's this thing about first-generation zombies having sex with each other and then gestating babies that I frankly find strained my suspension of disbelief so hard it still has stretch marks. Oh well.

P.S.: Effect of route of administration on the development of organophosphate-induced delayed neurotoxicity in 4-week-old chicks.
Olson BA1, Bursian SJ.
Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824.
J Toxicol Environ Health. 1988;23(4):499-505.
reading tiger

Reading: Let's Play Catch-Up

It's summer! I have free time again! So let's catch up with my bookshelves, shall we?

This morning I finished reading The Girl With All The Gifts. I would describe this as the In-n-Out Burger of popular literature: it's general shape and flavor are familiar, but of unusually high quality, and therefore surprisingly satisfying. It's not doing anything new, it's just doing what it does well. And since it's a suspense-zombie-adventure novel, I found it really hard to put down. "A page-turner!"

Before that I read The Sellout by Paul Beatty, which gets points for being the cheekiest thing I'm going to read this year, I can already tell. I don't think I am qualified to say much more about it other than how much I liked its sense of place -- it's an L.A. book, but about parts of L.A. you hardly ever see (in fiction or otherwise).

Sometime before that I read Follow Me Into the Dark by Felicia Sullivan, a book about serial killers and generational trauma, written from a feminist perspective. Like many books about serial killers and/or generational trauma, it got a little lurid for my tastes somewhere in the middle -- not gross, just over-the-top-ish. It fixed itself later. It still does some gaudy tricksy things that feel a little unnecessary, but overall it was solid, and recommended to people who like unreliable narrators (hoo boy) and unstable narrative realities and the like.

Meanwhile, I read The Princess Bride aloud to my children. They had mixed feelings, but mostly overall positive. As for me, it was on this re-read that I noticed that the whole "good bits" abridgment schtick is partly a commentary on Les Miserables, where the plot is the thinnest stuff necessary to get you through big blocks of other material, and that those big blocks aren't "digressions," they're the meat of the book, to Hugo anyway. The "plot" is just connective tissue.
reading tiger

A minor administrative note, in numbered list form.

1. I am still here.
2. I am still reading. (Books, that is, see below.)
3. I don't know how much I will be posting, besides my reading notes. We'll see how it goes.
4. I am trying to keep up with my, uh, "reading list" here, but I expect to fail. (Also see below.)
5. I am under massive deadlines and when I am not, I have been hustling like crazy. I expect things to loosen up during the summer but, again, we'll see. This is why I haven't been posting recently, and why I haven't read or commented on your post.
6. I have not deleted my LJ and have no plans to, but for many years now I have been posting here and mirroring it at LJ because I expect the latter to go belly-up without warning when its time comes, and I have higher hopes of getting advanced notice here at DW. I just didn't make it a point to call attention to my double-barrel action, is all.
reading tiger

reading notes

I'm about halfway through "Disrupted," Dan Lyons' account of his year at HubSpot.

It's making me feel better about my years at both FriendFinder and at HAF.

This is a sad thing.

The book, though, is entertaining as heck.
reading tiger

The Readening

I finished The Lost Time Accidents last night. I remain charmed. I wish I knew other folks who were reading it so I could discuss sensibly the choices the book makes at the end and what they mean -- character-wise, writing-wise, etc. Also I wish to note that it was chock-full of eccentric but fully realized women characters, and that was nice.
reading tiger

I do do other things than read, I just (mostly) don't discuss them here any more.

Still reading "The Lost Time Accidents." We have moved past WWI and into WWII, and yes, thank you, the resonances with our current political climate are present, if mostly backgrounded. The more obvious SF jokes/references (writer "Orson Card Tolliver," the "Church of Synchronology") are a little distracting, and bound to be more so as we head toward more contemporary times, but so far it's at a tolerable level.
reading tiger

The Return of Yr Erratic Reading Journal

I read I Miss the World by Violet LeVoit on the (non-personal) recommendation of nihilistic_kid. While I didn't find it as mind-bendy as all the review quotes pumped it up to be, I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it highly. It's a short read, almost all dialogue (held in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery), and if you like unreliable narrators you will love this book forever.

Since it's a small-press book, here's a link for more info:

Now I am reading The Lost-Time Accidents by John Wray. I have no idea who recommended this book to me or why I picked it up, but so far I like it. It might have something to do with having a tiny hard-on for stuff set in what would become "Eastern Europe" (really Mitteleuropa) roughly between the Franco-Prussian War and World War II. It seems so uncharacteristic of me overall, and really overly specific to boot, and yet here we are. P.S. do not talk to me of steampunk. Not my thing. See what I mean?

I feel like I'm missing another book in here somewhere. Well, I re-read Maus once my kids started poking at it in the bookshelf. I read Shannon Creech's Moo to the kids -- despite my current suspicion of middle-grade novels-in-verse, in this case the broken-up prose works well to indicate how to read it aloud most effectively. Listening to your parent go "MOOOOOOO" a lot at bedtime is apparently highly entertaining to all.
reading tiger

(no subject)

I just did a quick read of Girl Trouble, an "illustrated memoir" of female friendships by Kerry Cohen illustrated by her older sister, Tyler. It's really good. It's got me thinking about my own friendships, or sometimes lack thereof. I think debbieann in particular would enjoy this book.