This summer I’ve found myself making a lot of Ingrid Steblea’s kale salad. It’s almost like an aggressive coleslaw with a lovely dark and tangy bite. To my mind the only drawback of the recipe is that it requires advance preparation, so whenever I think to myself “you know what, self, we could really go for some kale and cabbage salad right now,” it’s actually a few hours from being IN MY MOUTH.
According to The New York Times:
By the end of last week, The Cuckoo’s Calling, by the debut mystery novelist Robert Galbraith, was as good as dead. Bookstores with unsold copies on hand were contemplating shipping them back to the publisher. Reviews, while generally positive, had tapered off. According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 85 percent of print sales, only about 500 copies had sold in the United States since the book went on sale in April.
Then J. K. Rowling, easily one of the most bankable authors on the planet, admitted over the weekend to The Sunday Times of London that she—and not a male military veteran, as initial information from the publisher claimed—was the real author.
Well, that certainly makes me feel better about the two hundred-some copies that The Millennial Sword has sold so far. Not bad for an unknown author, I guess.
(Photo by Sam.)
Davy’s birthday was yesterday—we had a small party for him at Niles Canyon, and there will be a little bit of a “do” at school tomorrow. He is thrilled with his new toys and clothes and books, but the biggest present (from my perspective) is one he has recently given us: Davy is now reliably potty-trained. After all, he’s a big kid now, as he’d be quick to tell you.
Here’s a few photos from yesterday’s train excursion:
Equations of Life
There was a time, while I was reading this, that I thought it was everything I’d ever wanted from a novel. It was about the point where (spoilers!) the hacker hero and his ladyfriend, a warrior nun, were dodging AI mechas on their way to rescue a yakuza princess.
I know, right? There are books I describe as “the kind of thing you will like, if you like that kind of thing”—it’s what I try to write myself—and Equations of Life is a perfect example of the form.
Strangely, though, as exhilarating as the novel was while I was reading it, it faded from mind almost immediately. I know there are sequels out there: I haven’t sought them out, and I probably won’t. That’s a weird place for a book to occupy. I enjoyed it very much and now I am done, thank you, I don’t want any more. Usually when I find an author I like I devour as much of their work as I can get, so I can’t explain my strange antipathy towards the subsequent books in this series…except to say that maybe I felt a little sugar-sick afterwards, as if I’d eaten a cupcake with too much frosting.
A Once Crowded Sky
Superhero novels have become their own subgenre. A few of these books—Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask, Soon I Will be Invincible—are among my very favorite books ever. Others I simply remember fondly (Hero, Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain).
But A Once Crowded Sky didn’t hit for me. I was never persuaded by the storytelling, which is self-consciously “meta” and (for me) rendered much of the characterizations and setting false. I think a superhero story has to work on the first level, the tights-and-capes level, before it can go deeper: and this one didn’t.
The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox
These books I almost didn’t want to review, because now I’m going to have to admit how much I enjoyed them.
I feel I would be on firmer philosophical grounds delivering a critique, as this is a case of a Western author writing “Chinese-flavored” material that combines well-researched and sourced material with a lot of stuff that was just, you know, made up. We’re talking here about everything from words, names, and phrases that were supposed to be Mandarin but patently weren’t, to spoof Confucian deities and texts. And I’m not comfortable with it—I think it’s stereotyping, I think it’s caricature—but the stories are really good, and really fun.
My surname is Li and my personal name is Kao and I have a slight flaw in my character. This is my esteemed client, Number Ten Ox, who is about to hit you over the head with a blunt object.
It’s delightful stuff, it really is. I can only shrug helplessly and say the material is clearly dated (it was first published in the Eighties) but retains a great deal of its charm.