Ms. Butler died in February of this year at the far-too-young age of 58. This was the last book she published. It's also the first book of hers that I've read.
This is one of those books that slowly reveals what's going on as the book progresses, so it's really hard to write a spoiler-free review.
It's told in first person narration by a young girl who awakens in a cave horribly wounded with no recollection of how she got there or who she is. Over the course of the first chapter she gets better (physically), and she gets better fast enough that you already are suspecting that there's something not quite human about her.
The events of the first two chapters are extremely shocking. The next few chapters reframe the shocking events to be less shocking. The shocking events are such that I expect to hear of attempts to ban this book by people who stopped reading at the shocking bits.
Ah hell, it doesn't spoil things too much to tell you that the narrator is a vampire. And that while that is shocking, it's not the most shocking thing in the first few chapters. And that Butler has tried to write a book with somewhat realistic vampires who could have inspired, but don't too closely match the common lore about vampires in our culture. Her vampires and their culture are fascinating and alluring.
I really enjoyed the first half of the book. The second half I enjoyed less, mostly because it strayed into the territory of courtroom drama which isn't my favorite. The ending made me sad, mostly because I'd grown to like these characters quite a lot and there won't be any more stories of them from Ms. Butler.
The babies do not object to the warm sunny weather we've been having. Not even a little bit.
In preparation for offering some more lost glove pictures for sale next weekend, I updated the map of glove sighting locations. I'm going to have to find a different way of doing this pretty soon.
Click the image for a slightly bigger (and less dithered) view. Can you deduce where I live, where I work, and how I get from one to the other from this map?
We're having an Art & Craft Sale at our house in downtown Issaquah the weekend of May 6 and 7.
14 different artists and groups working in Mixed media, Photography (lost gloves!), Paper-cuttings, Textiles, Pottery, Handmade soaps, and more.
Saturday, May 6, 10am to 4pm
Sunday, May 7, 10am to 4pm
A lost glove mention in today's Dilbert.
Finally got the disposable cameras from the party developed and cropped and tweaked and pushed up to flickr. View pictures galore. Thus ends party blogging 2006.
I'm running out of interesting cat pictures. Need to dress them up or something. We had to do a last minute photo shoot for this one. Theo is trying to figure out why I'm shining a flashlight at him (so the camera can get a focus lock) and then setting off bright flashes in his face.
Alice much prefers fresh water from the tap to her boring old bowl. Often when we walk in to the bathroom she's already sitting on the counter waiting for us to turn the water on for her. Sometimes she drinks like this directly from the faucet, others she sticks her paw under the stream and licks the water off (you can see water drops on her paw in this picture even) Sometimes if she feels she's been waiting on the counter too long she will shout at anyone in earshot to stop whatever pointless activity they're involved in and give the cat her water. Usually the pointless activity in question is sleep. Good thing she's so cute.
I'll stop talking about our party soon. There were a few people who wanted to see the questions we used as bait to lure people around the house. Here they are. You should be able to see the answers pop up if you put your mouse over a question.
B and I have a tradition that rather than giving tangible gifts for birthdays we instead plan a day of fun activities for the celebrant. This weekend was my birthday, so Becky planned a day for me.
This got really long so I'm putting the details behind the fold.
First we went to the fabulous (and free!) Frye Museum. They currently have two temporary exhibits, Swallow Harder: selections from the Ben and Aileen Krohn collection and Candida Höfer: Architecture of Absence. The Krohn pieces are in a variety of media from video to sculpted cardboard to more traditional forms with subject matter as wide ranging. The Höfer is a collection of her photographs of architectural spaces, mostly European, mostly institutional, and mostly internal. The prints are pretty impressive just as artifacts with most of them being five or six feet on an edge. The photos are devoid of any human form (with a few partial exceptions (some include a vestige of a person who moved around the space during a very long exposure)) making them (even more than usual with photos) seem to depict a frozen eternal moment. Becky had seen them before with a drawing class where she'd seen them primarily as art works of shape and color and form. Seeing them again with me she got the photo geek's perspective of looking at the mechanics of how Höfer had framed the spaces, the difficulty of exposure and lighting, and my theories about what kind of equipment she must have been using to retain such linearity and detail in such huge prints. The Höfer is there only through April 16, so hurry over and take a look if you're in the area. You have another month to catch the Krohn stuff before it leaves on May 14. If you go, be sure to wander out past the cafe to see the exhibit of student work from their educational arm. There's always something good to see back in that corner.
From the Frye on Capitol Hill we took a scenic drive along Lake Union over through the University District out to Sand Point for the Best of the Northwest art and craft fair. These huge hangars are a treasure when it comes to having this kind of event in our rainy weather. We wove through the whole space. It's interesting to go to these sorts of things repeatedly over the years and see the ebb and flow of popularity of the various media. When we first moved to the Seattle area it seemed like everyone was doing Chihuly-inspired glass. This weekend's show seemed to have a much higher percentage of fibre art than usual with stuff ranging through woven work, fabric collage, and other wearable things. Beck found a fused glass necklace she liked. I got my second of Helen Todd's very cool abstract photographs. At least at the moment, it's here: Subdivisions. Hunting down her web page just now I discovered that she has a blog. Go buy her stuff. I also spent a fair amount of time chatting with Brian Watson a Bremerton artist who was showing his calligraphically carved wood sculptures. I liked his stuff, but none of the pieces he was showing sang loudly enough for me to get past the sticker shock. Not that his prices are too outrageous, more that I'm a cheapskate. Becky also had a chance to visit with her friend and teacher Anne Lewis who was there selling her fun graphic-arty collage pieces.
From there we headed over to Carmelita for dinner. Carmelita is a gourmet vegetarian restaurant and Oh My God, it was good. We shared this: "Humboldt Fog chevre, tomato-lavender chutney, Maletti 6 year balsamic, fennel pollen, crostini", Becky had this: "Leek and Grueyere tart, frisee salad, caper vinaigrette, potato galette" and I had this: "Nettle-potato gnocchi, asparagus, goat cheese cream, Taggiasca olives, pickled peppers, Parmesan crisp" and then we shared this: "Espresso-Chocolate Mousse, chocolate-praline shell, bitter orange, shortbread crust". All to-die-for despite the fact that in most cases we didn't have a clue what any of that stuff was ;-)
After dinner, a short drive took us to the Phinney Neighborhood Center where Beck had reserved tickets to see Ellis Paul. Neither of us had heard him before, but a friend of Becky's is a fan. The show was produced by the Seattle Folklore Society who haven't disappointed us yet (and share our birth year of 1966). As has so often been the case for us lately, the best part of the night was the opener, Antje Duvekot. she's a German-born, US-raised singer songwriter with a lovely voice. She's at that stage where she's sort of channeling a bunch of other singers and players (I was hearing Ani diFranco and Nancy Griffiths), but I predict that in a few years she's going to have settled down into a style of her own. Paul was good too, especially when he unplugged and walked out into the middle of the audience and did a few songs with just his voice and guitar. His style was in stark contrast to Duvekot's. He uses his voice to do some incredible virtuosic things, but it seems a little over-thought and too flowery. Still, we bought one of his CDs. We would have bought one of Duvekot's too, but she had a grand total of 10 copies of her disk with her and those were sold in exactly 7.3 seconds after her set ended.
It was a very fun day. Thanks, sweetie. Thanks also to our friend Marilyn who we are car-sitting for. It probably would have been possible to do all those things with the bus, but we would have gotten wetter and had to walk a lot farther and I probably wouldn't have been up for it as I was (and am) still recovering from a cold.
Sunday was a little more easy-going with a morning run to our local gallery, Revolution (which used to be Evolution before it revolved to another owner) where they were having an artist's tag sale. Becky found some bargains, and I enjoyed poring over the densley packed displays in the gallery.
Back home I read a little bit and then did maintenance on our fleet of bikes.
Our friend Karen picked us up at 5 and we went to Capitol Hill for Ethiopian food (can't remember which of the six Ethiopian places (all within a few blocks of eachother) we went to, but it was good). Then we went to hear a lecture by Kevin Phillips, author of American Theocracy at Town Hall. Looks like you can see the lecture on the Seattle Channel later in the month. Phillips is a lapsed Republican and made a case for much of the disaster that is the Bush administration being the result of George's particular evangelical messianic delusions. Of course a Seattle crowd doesn't take much convincing of this, but his talk was interesting and occasionally funny, and while he didn't really have any answers it's cheering to see that there are people who self-identify as conservatives who have had it with the current administration and the current direction of the Republican party. Afterwards we went to Espresso Vivace Roasteria for coffee and conversation.
And if that wasn't enough excitement for one weekend, when we got home we found that Rachel had made me a cake! Plus there were presents. Goodness.
I'm not sure if Theo knocked this blanket from the chair onto the floor before or after he climbed inside.
Runner is set in an almost post-technological far future. There was an interplanetary culture with frequent starship transit between planets. All that technology has been operating on automatic for a couple of centuries and it's starting to break down. The book follows Jak Rebo, a "runner" or courier. In the first chapter he is commissioned to deliver a young boy to a far-flung planet. The boy is thought to be the reincarnation of a religious leader. What complicates the task is that an opposing sect of the same religion has another boy that they think is the true reincarnation. Lanni Norr is a "sensitive", apparently a genetically modified human with psychic powers including the ability to communicate with the dead. She is in contact with a spirit who wants to bring back the technological era. She ends up joining Rebo and the boy.
The setting is really the most interesting part of this book. But not interesting enough to keep me from wanting to learn how to speed read so I could get through the thing in less time (I was reading it for the Endeavour Award screening process, otherwise I would have just stopped). The plotting feels very much like a role playing game campaign without much lattitude for player variations. Lots of plot coupons, lots of cardboard minor characters helping the main characters through their various trials. If it had been half as long it might have been tolerable, but at over 400 pages, it was just not enough story spread over too many pages. It's not really bad, I suspect there's an audience that will lap this up and beg for more (the end leaves plenty of room for sequels), but I'm not that audience.
This one is along the same stretch of trail as #79. In fact, the good samaritan who laid it across the fence rail picked up #79 too.
I wonder what portion of the lost gloves in Issaquah come from here?
We were out for a walk today and saw this. Went back by bike with my camera and took a bunch of pictures. There are several puddles around it so it was fun playing with the reflections.
I kept riding by this one when I was in a hurry to get to work and didn't have time to stop to get its picture. It's so blue! This is along the newly opened East Lake Sammamish Trail.
I made them these lovely hats (snerk) for their birthday. They are nine today.
I couldn't get them to both keep their hats on at the same time. Alice was surprisingly willing to keep hers on for a while, but Theo just couldn't stand it.
I managed to get them both to have the hats on their sides for long enough to snap a picture.
But that's just silly.