eglantine_br (eglantine_br) wrote,

Reading and writing and things and stuff

I have finished reading 'Blackout' and it's sequel, 'All Clear.' These are the last part of Connie Willis' great Oxford time travel books. The premise is that historians at Oxford can go back in time to observe historic events. The books are 'Doomsday Book' which i love, and 'To say Nothing of the Dog' which is splendid too. There are also some interconnected short stories here and there. She obviously loves playing with the idea, and does it very well. She manages to be funny and sad in the way, it seems to me, that life is.

These last two are really one big story about the historians, (undergrads in their 20's,) visiting WWII era Britain. They end up observing Dunkirk and the Blitz and the RAF and all, up close. Which I knew little about.

It took me ages to read these last two. I gobbled up the one about visiting 1348, and the one that riffed on Three men in a Boat. I think the WWII ones did not appeal to me as much because that is not where I would choose to go. Not that I have any doubt of heroes then. But if I could go I would go further back, and see things we have less complete records of.

Which brings me to the book I started today. 'Boys at Sea.' It is about sodomy courts in Nelson's Navy. I know that a number of Following Sea people have read this already. I have been waiting ages to get a copy, and now I have one!!

There was one little paragraph that struck me, today. It was talking about the books that went to sea, how much they cost, and the fact that books were pretty easily affordable, and also most likely got shared around. I know that that is also true in the modern Navy. (USN.) We have an incomplete record, of course, as to what the sea officers preferred, when it came to light reading. There is little reason to make a record of that.

But the book then said we have no idea what they talked about at all. I mean, they talked about the ship, of course. But when the wind was right, and everything was going fine, we have to imagine they had plenty of time to speak, casually, of other things. Nobody wrote that down at all. It is lost. It wasn't really important. Probably just the everyday joking, complaining, examining, that we do, because we are social apes. Then as now, we talk mostly about other people.

But, if I could go through time, that is what I would like to see. Not the grand heroics, but the everyday stuff.

Connie Willis made the point, of course, that the everyday is the heroic. And I am sure she's right. I wish I could write like her. Her books make me cry, but in a good way.

In other news, I am persisting with the Spanish lessons. They are being harder and less wacky than before. I can understand people on the street, a little. Or I would if they would slow down!

So onward. To Thanksgiving, and beyond into the winter. Zoom!

****Edited to correct the plague year. I wrote it down wrong.****
Tags: real life, writing about writing instead of writing
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