Archive for June 18th, 2008

In Praise of My Husband

Sharon June 18th, 2008

My favorite moment in my whole marriage came on the phone, the night before I was supposed to give my first talk at the Community Solutions Conference - I was panicking about standing up in front of 250 people, and I said to Eric “I’m just praying for courage so I can get up there and say something.”  And very calmly, in the way one soothes heated and not-very-bright people, Eric said to me, “Honey, do you think you could pray for something other than courage?  Something you don’t already have an excess of, like… common sense?”  I laughed so hard I almost threw up, which helped.  But I also was struck by how wonderful it was to be understood so well by someone, and loved anyway.

Eric appears here mostly as a character on my blog.  Most of the time he’s either in the background, working his behind off so that I can look like I actually accomplish stuff, or he appears here as a comic foil to me, complaining about my habit of collecting livestock and my apocalyptic hobbies. 

Tomorrow is Eric’s 38th birthday, and just for the record, he’s a heck of a lot more than that – brilliant and wonderful, funny and extremely hot.  Just this once (normally we have the kind of marriage where soppiness is not only not required it is unacceptable, and a certain amount of mutual abuse is mandatory), may I observe that all the stuff I do, all the bad news I read, all the work I do – all of that is made possible by one very simple thing.  I’m happy.  That is, as bad as the other crap in the world is, and it is sometimes, there’s a core of joy in my life that none of it can penetrate into.  And the source of that happiness is my husband – yes, my kids too, but they come in part from him.  He is quite literally the best thing that ever happened to me.  In fact, to me, he’s proof that there is hope in the world.  Because he’s absolute proof that sometimes someone (that would be me) gets much, much more than they deserve.  And if the universe can be that merciful to me, well, maybe there’s mercy for all of us in the future.

Next week he goes back to being a character on the blog, but I thought just once I’d break the marital rules and get all soppy in public.  Happy Birthday, Eric.



Post-Apocalyptic Book Club Redux

Sharon June 18th, 2008

Well, it does seem like there’s some interest in the book club, no? I got 116 comments and a bunch of fascinating suggestions!

 I love all the suggestions – and I’m already mentally making lists “P-A Book Club – Year 2.”  The downside is that we’re going to have to leave off some favorites – not enough time.  But as mentioned, we can make supplemental lists as we go.

I did make some revisions based on suggestions, and have a few comments about why I chose what I did.  I’ll put together a list of supplemental suggestions for each month as we go along, using a lot of these suggestions.  And thanks – there are some I don’t know about, and I’m going to be reading.

Ok here are my revisions, and I’m going to let y’all vote on a few of them.  Let me know your preferences, post your vote in the comments, (the actual poll is below and numbered), and I’ll let you know the outcome.

July “Classic Guy Doom“ - Heinlein _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_ and Niven/Pournelle _Lucifer’s Hammer_.  I agree that LH isn’t a great book – there are parts of it that are quite compelling, but it has a lot of serious problems.  But I do really think we should read it, because it is the archetype of a particular kind of world vision.  This one stays as is.  Eliot’s “The Wasteland” is going to be the supplement.

August “The Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse” – A lot of people suggested _Into the Forest_ by Jean Hegland and we might do this one for some other topic, but the thing is, I think in many ways, structurally, it is very similar to _Life as We Knew It_ by Susan Beth Pfeiffer, in that it offers a female perspective in a very narrow world – both books have some references to community, but ultimately, the survival aspect of both is “family alone” – I think both have things to offer, but I want the other choice we make for a gendered perspective to be more focused on community.  I had proposed _The Gate To Women’s Country_ by Sherri Tepper, in part because I think it is a good parallel to _The World Made by Hand_ by James Kunstler which we discussed here recently – that is, it isn’t just a feminine view, but a totally woman-centered communal one – with some problems.   The other possibility would be _The Fifth Sacred Thing_ by Starhawk, which also has a strong community vision.  So I’ll be letting you pick. Poll down below, please answer in comments (I don’t know how to make a real poll in wordpress, so you’ll have to put up with my low tech model).

September “Energy Crash Month” – I’m going to keep things the same – _Dies the Fire_ by Stirling and Johnston’s _After the Crash_.

October “Reader Choice Month”   Ok, so far the themes that have been suggested (explicitly or by implication) might include “Zombie Month” with (“World War Z” and “Monster Island” as the suggestions - neither of which I’ve read), “Hunter-Gatherer Month” (_The Earth Abides_ and _Into the Forest_), “Apocalyptic Children’s Books (Quite a few suggestions here, I’d need to sort through, although _The Girl Who Owned a City_ Was a Fave of Mine when I was 11 – the perfect pre-teen power trip novel ;-) ).  These seem to be the most popular, so I’ll be letting you vote.

November: “Nuclear Holocaust Month” –  I can’t believe I forgot about _A Canticle for Lebowitz_ by Walter Miller.  Definitely that one and Pat Frank’s _Alas, Babylon_.  Excellent!

December: “Ecological Doom Month” For Ecological Doom, Moran’s _Earth of Ice_ was suggested, and sounds promising (I haven’t read it, but that’s part of the fun!).  And Kim Stanley Robinson’s _Forty Days of Rain_.

January: “High Culture Doom Month“ Cormac McCarthy’s _The Road_ and selections from _The Canterbury Tales_ (“The Pardoner’s Tale” definitely, maybe also “The Cook’s Tale” and _The Decameron_)  And I’m going to need you all to offer me suggestions on what the absolute worst post-apocalyptic novel ever is.  Right now, my vote is for an excresence I picked up at a used book shop called _The EndLight Event” by John Cater.  This makes “Farnham’s Freehold” look like Shakespeare.  But I bet there’s something worse out there.  Help me out!

February: “Horrible Disease Month” – I’m not giving up Saramago, which I just think is a wonderful, beautiful book.  Several people have suggested Atwood’s _Oryx and Crake_ which I have not read.  Would people rather that than Stephen King’s _The Stand_ which, believe it or not, I also have not read?  I realize I’m the only person on the earth who hasn’t read the King book – it was just that that was all anyone in my high school read, it seemed (Kim who commented before and went to high school with me can probably attest to this ;-) ) and I read a couple and got bored and quit.  So I partly put it on there to make myself read it, but if y’all like _Oryx and Crake_ better in the disgusting disease department, I’m fine with it.  The other possibility, although this isn’t a human disease is _No Blade of Grass_ by John Christopher (which I also forgot about and really like)  Poll below.

March: Religion and Apocalypse: I actually did read one of the _Left Behind_ Novels in graduate school, because I felt I ought to – it wasn’t the first one, and it was dreadful. I still feel really strongly that we should read it, because it is culturally important – those books are the most read apocalyptic novels in our culture.  The problem is that I’m torn.  I definitely want us to read _The Parable of the Sower_ but someone mentioned _Good Omens_, and I’m really struggling with my desire to do that one too.  So I’ve decided I’ll run all three – none is that long.  And I won’t ask y’all to read any high culture books at all.  I think the three together will really kick ass!

April: “The Collapse of the State”: David Brin’s *ORIGINAL* (I’m totally with MEA on this one) “The Postman,” and Roth’s _The Plot Against America_ along with Achebe’s _Things Fall Apart_ for those who want more to read.

May: I’m making a slight change here “Internet Fiction and Movie Month” – I’m going to put together a bunch of online fiction and a list of movies, and we’ll take a break from actual books for a month.

June: Population Apocalypse: Thanks, thank, thanks to those who reminded me of Brunner’s _Stand on Zanzibar_ which I read in High School, loved and haven’t seen since.  I think that one, combined with PD James in _The Children of Men_ will be nice juxtaposition.  And, of course, we’ll read Malthus himself.  

Ok, so I need your answers to a poll (please put the numbers in so I don’t completely lose track of what questions are being answered.

1. For August, would you rather read Starhawk’s _The Fifth Sacred Thing_ or Tepper’s _The Gate To Women’s Country_?

2. For October, would you prefer “Zombies” “Apocalyptic Children’s Novels” or “Hunter-Gatherers” as a theme?

3.  For January – Your votes for the worst post-apocalyptic novel ever!!!

4. For February – Should we read _The Stand_, _No Blade of Grass_ or _Oryx and Crake_? 

 Post your votes, and let the doominess begin.  I’ll run the first discussion of Heinlein on Monday, July 6, so get a’readin ;-) .