It has been in this neighborhood, very. My family is completely mad, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I love my Opus-and-Bill-the-Cat sweatshirt.
It took me a while to figure out what to read for Christmas. I mentioned in an earlier post that I used to read LotR (the Lord of the Rings) every year, preferably as much as possible by the light of the tree. Haven’t been able to go back to that in a few years now, due to scarring, so last year I started the Anne books… My main criteria for a Christmas book is that it is a book I know and love which has, kind of obviously I suppose, a certain level of coziness – not the same sort of “cozy” some murder mysteries claim; I’ve never caught the whiff of irony about the name “cozy mystery”, but come on. Guy Kay’s books are not Christmas books: dearly loved, yes; cozy – not on this planet.
This year I considered a few different books, books I hadn’t read in a while that I love dearly: Barbara Hambly’s Stranger at the Wedding; something by Charles deLint; too late (after I started the one I chose) I thought of Lord Peter (about the only mysteries I’d consider for the season, except maybe Kate Ross – Lord Peter and Julian Kestrel are two men I’d enjoy spending the holidays with). Another, possibly strange-sounding contender is Uhura’s Song, a Star Trek novel by Janet Kagan. I’ve probably said this before too: I read every Star Trek novel as it came out about twenty years back, until I finally realized that the dreck far outnumbered the diamonds… but the diamonds were true and wonderful. Uhura’s Song is one of the fine ones, in which characterization is perfect, writing is beautiful, and storyline doesn’t do damage to the weave of the ST universe, one of the ones which give every indication that the author wrote it out of love of Star Trek, not to make a few bucks by relabeling stock characters with Trekkish names.
I wound up with a library sale find from a while back, a childhood/tween favorite which I was both delighted and saddened to find being sold by the library after they renovated – delighted because it could be mine, sad because their culling of it meant that there would be no more girls finding it and loving it. I hate that. Oh, the title? The Lark in the Morn. It’s the story of Kit, a young girl whose mother died, as Bridget from “Medium” said in an episode I just caught in reruns, in infancy and whose father is one of those busy absent absent-minded types who tend to forget they have a child, or simply don’t know what to do with her if they do remember. In loco parentis she has a cousin who is either still overwhelmed with the burden of raising someone else’s child, or who is simply a bitca. I think it’s too charitable to assume the former; she’s constantly complaining about everything the poor girl does, and making it clear how queer she considers her … Helpful, that. Kit is considered a queer child, by friends and family alike, and isn’t happy about it – but has no idea how to change it… she’s dissatisfied, and doesn’t know why. She enjoys her friends, but finds that she is not quite as easy with them as she used to be; she’s no longer quite as ready to let them lead the way. I love that she is a Quaker in a Quaker community, which was a revelation to me as a child: it was so strange to read about such a different method of worship than mine. And it was nice to read about another girl who was a bit weird. Funnily enough, it takes a few pages to figure out where Kit lives – an American’s assumption (or mine, at least) is that a Quaker lives in Pennsylvania – it’s somehow a bit disorienting to find she lives in England. It’s a very prettily written book, and the author has a good ear for children; some of those other writers who shall remain nameless who can’t seem to find the right note between too-twee-sharp and too-adult-flat would benefit by reading Ms. Vipont. Kit and her friends Pony (love that – if that isn’t her real name it hasn’t been revealed) and Helen wander the countryside – which is being encroached upon by Industry, described in such a way as to send a chill down my spine without being shrilly Luddite – pretending to be Prince Charlie and his men fighting the Redcoats – fascinating in that they are non-violent Quakers, and that they are English… All in all, it’s not the perfect Christmas book – I think I really should have gone with The Nine Tailors; it starts at Christmas and everything – but it is a good one, and a book I’ve been meaning to read. Now if only we had a tree up so I could go read by it.
There are reviews I could write, and snarky posts about the US Postal Service, but it’s Christmas yet a while (if not by the clock then by me: I consider it the same day till I go to bed). I think instead I’ll go watch Star Trek to see if I can decide if I hate it or love it, or maybe The Princess Bride – just because. (Why didn’t I think of PB as my Christmas book? Maybe next year.)
And to all – a good night!