Thursday, August 25, 2016

What's Up?

Not posting much this week - my energy is going to an application for promotion at work (I hate online applications that won't let me save a partial application!) and other life stuff. Like a sing at a local hospice last weekend, my Artist Play group gearing up for fall, and getting ready to facilitate a small group at my place of worship. Oh yes, and reading. I've currently got 3 books started.

The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead

The Race Beat
by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff

All the birds in the sky
by Charlie Jane Anders 

And two book-related events I'd like to go to this fall:

AJC Decatur Book Festival Labor Day Weekedn
(I consider this annual event my birthday present!)

Nisi Shaw (Everfair) at Charis Books September 23

What are you up to?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

James Tiptree, Jr.: The double life of Alice B. Sheldon

Julie Phillips biography of James Tiptree, Jr./Alice B. Sheldon is one of the best biographies I've read. (For those who don't know, Tiptree was an award winning author of science fiction in the 1960s & 70s. In 1976 her cover was blown, and people discovered she was Alice B. Sheldon, a woman in her fifties who had worked in military intelligence, the CIA, and as an experimental psychologist.)

Phillips manages, on the one hand, to describe the external facts of Sheldon's life as well as providing a compassionate portrait of Sheldon's inner life and struggles.

And for me, it's the juxtaposition of her exterior life, that which others see, with her interior life, what she thinks, dreams, and hopes that makes this woman fascinating. On the outside, it looks like a pretty good life. But like many of us, Alice is often more focused on the things she wishes were better, or different, particularly her role as a woman and a writer. And I can identify with many of them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wondrous Words Wednesday: July's Words

Here are some words I came across in my reading within the past month. Check out this post to find more from other bloggers.

My favorite (I had no clue what this meant until I looked it up.)

synecdoche (si-nek-duh-ke), noun

a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole (or the whole for the part); or the special is used to represent the general , or the general for the special.

Example: ten sail for ten ships, or a Croesus for a rich man

It [the veil] serves as a synecdoche for extremism and the oppression of women in the name of religion, even though most Muslim women do not wear it and many of those who do consider it to be protected by constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.

from "Visible through the veil: the regulation of Islam in American law" by Kathleen M. Moore in Sociology of Rreligion 2007, 68:3, 237-251.

The following are from My Friend Muriel by Jane Duncan

gallimaufry (noun) 

a confused jumble or medley of things.
I decided to spend seven days with Muriel for a whole conglomeration or gallimaufry of reasons and motives. from My friend Muriel by Jane Duncan

propitious (adjective)

giving or indicating a good chance of success; favorable: the timing for such a meeting seemed propitious. 

You could stop as often as you liked, and on a propitious day the Strip of Herbage could take you a whole afternoon to see it properly.

erroneous (adjective) 

wrong; incorrect

policies (plural of policy) noun

This is a usage I'm not familiar with, but from (Scotland, now chiefly in the plural)
The grounds of a large country house[from 18th c.]

They roamed about the Poyntdale policies and Home Farm.

Many of the following are musically related, and all come from the dystopian novel The Chimes by Anna Small. 

amabile (adverb)

music in a tender loving style

At Matins the Carillon sounds Onestory piano - quiet, amabile. Onestory is antiphony: question and answer, call and response.

antiphony (noun)

alternate or repsonsive singing (see quote above)

solfege (solfège)
A method of sight singing that uses the syllables do (originally ut), remifasol (or so), la, and si (or ti) to represent the seven principal pitches of the scale, most commonly the major scale

In The Chimes, solfege seems to be sign language to help people sing.

It is the melody simple first. We follow in solfege. Hands in concert as the sky is carved by it: Soh, Fah, Me . . . .

Lucien makes the solfege, spells it out by hand so that we see it and hear it inside at the same time.

subito: immediately, suddenly

I walk toward it like it's calling my name. And then subito I am running.

tacet:  silent 

I nod. But I am tacet.
There is tacet in the storehouse for awhile.
A look with a tacet agreement in it.

And then there's the following word, but I'm going to have to do a post about this book, so I'll just give you the dictionary definition without discussing the role this element plays in the story.

palladium (pə-lā′dē-əm)
noun, plural palladia; chemical symbol is Pd

 A soft, ductile, lustrous gray-white, tarnish-resistant, metallic element occurring naturally with platinum, especially in gold, nickel, and copper ores. Because it can absorb large amounts of hydrogen, it is used as a purification filter for hydrogen and a catalyst in hydrogenation. It is alloyed for use in electric contacts, jewelry, nonmagnetic watch parts, and surgical instruments.

In The Chimes, the main character, Simon, and his associates scavenge the River for palladium, which they sell to the Order for use in building the Carillon.

From Hostile takeover by Susan Schwartz

 queep (noun):

The sound a bird may make, similar to peep, chirp, cheep.
The sound a machine may make, similar to beep.
US military slang: non-flying duties, typically paperwork, that are undesirable to pilots

Collimate: (verb)

to make (rays of light or particles) accurately parallel
"a collimated electron beam"
The word "collimate" comes from the Latin verb collimare, which originated in a misreading of collineare, "to direct in a straight line".
Collimation" refers to all the optical elements in an instrument being on their designed optical axis. It also refers to the process of adjusting an optical instrument so that all its elements are on that designed axis (in line and parallel).

That's it for me!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Golden Scales: a mystery series set in Egypt

Set in the late 1990s, Golden Scales is the first in a projected 10-book series about Makana, a exiled police inspector from Sudan, covering the 1990s up to the Egyptian revolution.

On the surface this is a mystery, with the main character, Makana, hired by a powerful businessman, Hanifi, to locate a missing soccer player, Adil. But life is rarely simple, and personal & political ramifications proliferate as Makana searches for Adil in Cairo. The story is laced with uncomfortable parallels of loss between Hanifi's & Makana's family, as well as between the British woman Liz & Makana.

Makana's integrity after the '90s coup in Sudan endangered his family. Now, living in exile in Egypt, he again attempts to balance integrity & survival where the practice of one attribute endangers the implementation of the other. I liked this novel. It can be read as a straight-up mystery, but following Makana, his friends (and his enemies) also gives a glimpse of some of the societal concerns shaping life in Egypt and Sudan.

The fifth book in the series, City of Jackals, was published in June 2016. For more information about the author, see his two websites: Parker Bilal (his pen name for mysteries) or Jamal Mahjob (his literary fiction) or his Wikipedia entry or this interesting article from 2013. Thanks to Suzanne on Library Thing for introducing me to this series!

Title: Golden Scales
Copyright: 2012
Genre: mystery
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Author: Parker Bilal (pseudonym for Jamal Mahjob)

Also listed in Akilah's Diversity on the Shelf and Naz' Read Diverse Books challenges.