a litblog, of sorts
Okay okay okay, this blog started out on Blogspot in 2005 and ran there until 2010 (which era's worth of posts are, unbelieveably, still out there; Just Bing It!) before I moved over to Wordpress for sporadic posting until about 2019. Then my hosting provider decided to merge with another hosting provider that I didn't like and so I was like, whatever, I'm just going to go roll my own thing! That was a delusion I had because my lady and I also had just had our second baby. (He's 2 now. What the hell.) And then anyway a global pandemic hit and, well. Well. It's 2021 now and I'm seeing if I can get this thing running again, for some reason. (Reasons like "sometimes it's nice to scream into the void for more than 280 characters at a time" and "why not, nothing matters anyway, lol".)
Anyways, I've moved over to a custom-built Eleventy-based site hosted on Netlify and I think I've actually gotten all the Wordpress content imported over (thanks, Smashing Magazine!), except for the images, because I think I forgot to download all those before my old hosting provider imploded. So if you're looking for the 2011-era typewriter posts, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
Anyways, does anyone even blog anymore? I've had a weird reading year. I might try blogging about it. Does that make me retro-cool, yet? Who knows. Nothing matters anyway. LOL.
(Also I apologize for basically everything about this site. It's May 2021 and I can't remember half of what I did last year to configure this site and anyway the world is still basically, completely fucked. So!)
My lady and I have a new baby on the way. Newbie's coming (casually checks watch) in the next couple days.
Over the last couple weeks I've realized that my version of "nesting" involves less frantic cleaning, more desperate cobbling together of a list of books I might aim to read this year, focusing more on plotty scifi and fantasy, less on giant sludgy literary works that might make me have feelings because there'll be enough of that going on this coming year, thank you very much.
One thing I noticed, or re-realized, during this exercise is that basically every scifi/fantasy book ever written is part of a series, usually at least a trilogy's worth. So as the number of books in that list rose, the number of actual books it could represent, were I to strike gold every time and felt compelled to go completionist the entire way down the list, rose semi-exponentially. I went through and did the math according to criteria that made sense to me at the time, and as of sometime last week, that list is the facade of a list about 265 books deep.
Worth noting: that does not include a likely eventual reread of the Expanse series, because we have to be realistic, sometimes, nor does it include all future books that may be added to series that are still in the works. It does include all the primary Shannara books, which I think accounts for about half the entire list. Which is itself doubled by the two Stormlight Archive books I've got lined up.
It also doesn't include the Broken Earth series, because that's one I committed to already this year; I just re-read the first book ahead of finally reading the final two, and I'm wondering just how weird that weird mood I was in two years ago was that I did not immediately go out and read the rest of the series after first finishing book one. Did it involve the fact that I don't think the third book was out yet? Should that have stopped me? Maybe not.
Anyway, if you need me, look for me in a month, when I'll probably get stir crazy and slop myself down into a reread of War and Peace or something by William Gaddis or something else that makes absolute zero sense to me at the time.
I'm now halfway through The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro. I'm not sure why it made sense to pick that book up at this particular time, but I can tell you why reading the book makes sense to me now, a sense I doubt it ever could have made to me back when I read it in high school (and hated it--I'm sure I've mentioned that about 500 times in this blog's archives): this book is often hysterical....
Still, I don't get it. I don't really know what the hell he's trying to do with this book. I mean, I get a lot more than I did when I read it when I was 15 or 16 or whatever.... But I'm often just so bloody mystified by the thing I wonder if I'm not completely underthinking (or overthinking) everything I think about it. Maybe. Really, I don't know.
Flash forward nearly twelve years: I'm now about halfway through reading The Unconsoled for the third time, and I barely need to think about my own thoughts, because I'm fairly sure this is the most realistic book I've ever read. Like, it's so obvious: this is what is. This book makes perfect, simple sense; it's a soft-focus gut-punch, an accurate representation of life and memory and emotion and how it all works and turns over on itself and pokes itself in the eye from behind. It's the unexpected moment you catch yourself thinking about something else, and in that span of a blink, you're actually someone else; it's that, writ large across 535 pages. It's conversing with the strangers that you are yourself across the decades about the book and the life you've lead around it.
I can also go ahead and, unlike last time, tell you exactly why I picked this book up, this time: I needed a comfort read. (It's TDAOC Reading Tip #1, after all.) It's the feeling of being at odds and ends with the intensity of the world and needing something detaching and engaging and warm and detached to crawl into and wrap oneself up in for a while while breaking and breaking until the time the break washes over you and you can come back up and gasp for air and go back to it, whatever it is. It's wanting to live inside someone else's dream for a while, to take an uncharacteristically lollygagging approach to reading a book, to let it circle you and wind its way into your thoughts and moods, to finding yourself somewhere in there, in the corners of someone else's vision, the sideways glances off the edges of a mirror. It's letting the TBR pile pile up for a while longer, because there's no end to the days on offer, until the days end.
It feels good to read this book, right here, right now. It feels right.
This is all sort of why I have to politely and personally disagree with one small point in Robert Cremins's "Ishiguro's Orphans," which is otherwise pretty great and informative and interesting:
Is Ryder, the internationally renowned pianist meandering through a provincial city in Mitteleuropa, 100 percent unreliable? No, but maybe 90 percent.
False: Ryder is as reliable as they come. He's more reliable than you or me, separate or together. He's life as it's lived, not life as it's written. Trust the linear narrator less. They know not what they know not.
My name is Darby M. Dixon III. I like books. Thumb Drives and Oven Clocks is my litblog. It has existed since January 2005. You're looking at what I think is the third iteration, though honestly who knows for sure.
You can @ me on Twitter at @darby3.