Monday, November 25, 2013

This week the library: NaNoWriMo, Sharpe, and histories


We're in the last week of National Novel Writing Month, and I can cheerfully report that I am not woefully behind, having faithfully plugged away almost every night. If I can make up for a couple of missed days, I should manage my 50,000 words. I'd regale fellow nano-writers out there with tales of my zany characters and oddball plot, but it's no grant adventure what I've been writing, just bits and pieces of a coming-of-age story in which a largely unsympathetic main character persists in prolonging misery by hiding from his own life, but keeps meeting people who, inexplicably, wish to draw him out into it. These include a redneck Marxist and a kindly priest.  Once I've gotten the 50,000 words, I really must on making the main character somewhat likeable. At the moment he's scarcely more than a grouch.

But speaking of books I am reading, or have read, instead of one I am pretending to write, this past week I finished a couple, including another Phillip Kerr novel which comments are largely ready for. Moments ago I finished Tom Standage's The Victorian Internet, which made a lot more sense once I realized it had been written in 1998. It will receive comments later in the week. On a more serious note, last week I finished two works of history, The South vs the South and Train Time. Train Time deserves more consideration than a brief mention here, but The South was largely disappointing despite being well put together. It is largely focused with the role of slaves in the war, covering the politics of wartime emancipation splendidly. My interest in reading this was in discovering more about the effect of dissent and rebellion of white farmers and townsfolk against the Confederacy, and they are ignored wholly:  they only featured in a chapter on the border states which reveals how apathetic southerners could be about the planters' republic.  David Williams had  a far more interesting canvas, but then his didn't have nearly the detailed documentation. If only I could have the best of both worlds -- well, there's always The Free State of Jones,  which is another in this genre of historical nonfiction I've found.

This week, I'm with Richard Sharpe in France, where he's almost hoping Napoleon will give up without further fighting -- hardly surprising considering the bloody road through Spain he's taken to get to Toulouse. I am expecting in the mail another book on travel and physical adventure. It was irresistible given the title. That will probably wait until December, though -- Sharpe will keep me company as I try to finish my own little campaign.  I look forward to reporting success on Sunday or Monday!


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