Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: fiction Page 1 of 8

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King: New Read

I’ve succumbed to PEER PRESSURE and decided to read ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King in the spirit of the season!

'Salem's Lot

Another new read, Michelle? Really?

Hey, I’m only reporting on what’s going on around here. Don’t blame the messenger!

What can I say? I read a lot.

It irritates me when I become a follower, but so many book bloggers and “bookstagrammers” on Instagram were posting about Halloween reads that I decided to go with the flow and pick up “‘Salem’s Lot” off my TBR shelf. I bought it several months ago but was pretty burned out on Stephen King at the time, so I had set it aside for other (shorter and less terrifying) things.

The time has come to crack open this gargantuan paperback and peek inside. I’ve never read it before, and I know there was an old tv miniseries based on the book but I’ve never seen it. Now it looks like there will be a new movie coming out next year. Looks like a recurring theme, doesn’t it? Didn’t we just go through this with “The Stand?”

“‘Salem’s Lot” was first published in 1975, only three years after yours truly was born, and his second novel. I didn’t know this until I picked the book up off my shelf, (Yes, I bought it without really knowing what it was about. It’s Stephen King and one of his first. I need no other enticement.) but this book is about VAMPIRES! I love vampire stories! Why have I not read this before? Weird.

As you can probably tell, I’m excited to dive into this novel. Yesterday’s read brought me 94 pages in and I’m making very few notes. I usually read with pencil in hand to mark passages that I feel are particularly enlightening, but King writes differently. It’s not a stand-alone sentence or paragraph that makes you go, “Hmm…” It’s his timing and build-up. He creeps in there over pages and pages of words that you might think are extra. I mean, please, do we need to describe everything?!

Apparently, yes, we do, because you’re reading along and then you get a chill, you realize you haven’t taken a breath in a page, maybe two, your heart starts to speed up, and then he backs away again, only to creep up on the horror a few pages later and catch you by surprise. This is going to be so much fun.

My Analog Reading Log

I think I’ve mentioned it before in one of my annual reading summary posts that I keep a log of what I’m reading and when. It’s a paper book (because I’m all about analog) and each January I make up a statistics report about how many books I’ve read, what kind, how much time I spent, and how many pages. I know you’re wondering, “Why?!” Because I have a very strange sense of fun and this pleases me immensely!

Bookly App Screenshot

This past week I decided to try using the Bookly app to track because I heard that it makes pretty reports. These are the things that bring me joy! This is what I have so far, but when I finish the book, it will make a sweet little graphic of all the details and I can share it here and be proud of myself. I’m THAT kind of crazy.

For the time being, I’m logging in my paper book AND on the app. It remains to be seen whether I will keep using both. I’ll probably go back to the analog way eventually. Pencil and paper also please my little heart. Technology can lure me for a while, but I typically end up returning to my old ways. I like the tactile feel of it all. And seeing the physical reading journals lined up at the end of my bookshelf makes me happy.

The last book I read by Stephen King was The Stand, but there are others. Click over to my Autobibliography page to find them!

Hopeful Dystopian Fiction: Fahrenheit 451

“Michelle, come on. Hopeful dystopian fiction? I mean, dystopian means bad…very bad.” I know, but give me a minute here. Things can be bad and there can still be a bright future glimmering inside, maybe not for the characters but for their children or children’s children.

Possible SPOILER ALERT, my dears!

So, I’m reading Fahrenheit 451 and I start thinking maybe I remembered less of this book than I thought. I remember Montag meeting the girl and the hound is chasing him. I vaguely remember him getting away, but I don’t how and I’m only halfway through the book. Maybe I didn’t finish reading it last time?

And then the story is over. What?

It turns out that the 60th Anniversary Edition has bonus material. Sweet! The last 100 pages are “History, Context, and Criticism.” They include critical reviews and a few letters from Ray Bradbury. Those were my favorite! Every word I read from him, the more I love him.

His novels and short stories are not complex but hold so much power.

There was one little thing that stuck out to me on this time around, the “seashells.” He’s describing earbuds that people listen to constantly in Fahrenheit 451. Strange because right before I started reading the book, I had commented to a friend at lunch that everywhere I looked people were wearing those damn wireless earbuds. They look like remote control people.

I’ve never been able to listen to anything on those things. I feel vulnerable when they are in my ears, cut off from the sounds of the rest of the world, all hails and warnings too. I can’t focus on what I’m listening to. When people walk by with them on, it’s clear they want no contact from me. It’s creepy. Like we’re all alone…together.

In 1953, he wrote an article for “The Nation,” called “The Day After Tomorrow: Why Science Fiction?”

“So much depends, of course, on what the individual hears when he gives himself over to the electronic tides breaking on the shore of his Seashell. The voice of conscience and reason? An echo of morality? A new thought? A fresh idea? A morsel of philosophy? Or bias, hatred, fear, prejudice, nightmare, lies, half-truths, and suspicions?”

I don’t use earbuds, but I do listen to podcasts while I drive, as you probably have read in one of my Podcast Roundups. There are so many choices out there and I could fill my time in a million different ways, but I choose book discussions, philosophy, something that will help my reasoning, give me a new thought or a fresh idea, not add to my confirmation bias or stir up angry feelings of injustice.

And what about our smart phones with social media feeds? He couldn’t have seen that from way back there, but I think his feelings about in-ear radios match up quite nicely. Who or what you “follow” makes all the difference in the world.

One more little thing and then I’ll let you go.

“Is there…a delicate interplay where the society does not crush the individual but where the individual realizes that without his cooperation society would fly to pieces through the centrifugal force of anarchy?”

That’s something to think about, isn’t it? Personally, I’m a fan of classic anarchy (meaning “an absence of any form of political authority”) and prefer it to what we are currently running headlong into, but I get what he’s saying. Living in a community is a give and take dance. The bigger the community, the more complicated it becomes. You can’t run onto the dance floor and start a mosh pit while the ballroom dancers are gliding across the floor without inflicting injuries. And, ethically, we can’t force everyone to dance the same dance at the same time, so what do we do? Make space I suppose, take turns, create contracts, set up personal boundaries.

Reading Fahrenheit 451 after George Orwell’s 1984 was soothing. Sure, it’s dystopian, a cautionary tale about where we may be headed, but with a hopeful ending. I closed the book thinking, “See? Even if we screw things up royally, we’ll come back again.” Humanity has been much worse off in the past. I mean, the Dark Ages?!

If you keep your eye on the bigger picture, the one that includes each and every one of us as a thread in larger tapestry, things aren’t so overwhelming. Each of our lives adds a bit of color or texture to the design. Our little piece of string doesn’t seem like much but without us, the whole thing starts to unravel.

Instead of worrying so much about where I fit or what others are doing, I’ve decided to focus on my own life and connect with the people around me. Like the outliers in Fahrenheit 451, I do my best to memorize what I can and pass it forward to the next person.

If you’d like to read more of my posts about this book, pop back over to “Fahrenheit 451: New Read.”

Tyranny of the Majority or “We Vote Against You”

Tyranny of the majority, otherwise known as “mob rule,” is no way to build a nation. A straight democracy, one without limits to its power, is a tyranny as much as any dictator or king.

Where do I even start with this one? It’s like the author could see me struggling from 80 years away.

The words are hard to gather. Once again, I’m sitting here wishing you were here. When we speak face to face, your reactions to my words help my limping ideas along. Your questions and insights, even when contradicting mine, give my mind the steam to organize and move forward at a faster rate. Is it the same for you? I feel that it is.

Reading that line from the book, I’m reminded of that cliché everyone’s mom is reported to say, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you?”

I hope not. But then, if everyone found a great new way to communicate, I’d be happy to join the majority and thrive along with them. No one wants to be left out, or left behind, but sometimes we do need to swim against the tide and strike out on our own to find what is true. So how do we know when to stay with the crowd and when to forget our own path alone?

I believe it’s only by conversation, in person, through books and articles, and even through comments online, if we could learn to better listen. But lately, (and by lately, I mean the past five or six years) online in the past, and now more and more often in person, I get the feeling that no one wants to hear the question “Why?”

When the dreaded question is asked, I recoil at the verbal and written violence thrown at them from every side. It’s as if the very idea of questioning anything any “authority” says is an attack on that authority and must be defended at all costs.

How have we come to this point? And please don’t just yell back, “Social media is doing it to us!” It’s too easy an answer. Besides, who is behind the social media? Us. We are the ones reacting in terrible ways to posts. We are the ones throwing the word grenades into the fray. And we are the ones packing our comments with shrapnel in hopes of causing the most damage to our perceived enemies.

We’ve all fragmented into tiny tribes of identity attempting to vote any opposing group or another out of existence.

Personally, I have hope that things will get better again. The world may not be ending, only changing…again. Reading Ray Bradbury’s words reminds me that polarizing arguments like ours have been had before and we came through. The world did not end in a nuclear holocaust, and we didn’t run out of food.

There are loads of statistics and trends out there that point to things getting better, not worse. Authors like Matt Ridley in The Rational Optimist helped me see that. His blog is a wonderful read as well.

The tyranny of the majority has always been a problem for humans. Mobs suck in almost every way. Humans are complex creatures. We crave to be part of a community for our mental health. There is safety in numbers and “many hands make light work” is a truism. But we also need to be true to ourselves, and each of us is different.

When we lived in small communities of distant relatives, it was easier. We generally only fought to the death with those outside our land. Things are different now. Technology has made our world feel so much smaller. So many people, backgrounds, religions, cultures, languages, etc., all thrown into the pot together. There are bound to be serious miscommunications.

Is patience all we need? A little more listening. Maybe.

It reminds me of Star Trek’s “universal translator.” It must have taken decades to develop that and work out all the bugs. If you’ve watched “Enterprise” and “Original Series” you’ll remember some epic mess-ups with it.

Technology is bringing this world is moving forward into unknown territory very quickly. Can we keep the peace long enough to begin to understand each other better? Or will we tear each other apart in fear first?

Go back to my first post “Fahrenheit 451: New Read” to read more.

Fahrenheit 451: New Read

I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury years ago and the only thing I remember of it is that it was stressful to read but not as heart racing as 1984 and burning books but not why.

Fahrenheit 451

Sidenote: Ray Bradbury was at a library event that I was representing a statewide homeschool advocacy group at. He read from The Halloween Tree and stood there, in awe. I couldn’t believe it was him and tried to be cool. The woman I was manning our booth with thought it was funny that I was so struck. The moment I got home, I went and found a copy of that book and read it to my kids. It’s one of my favorites.

P.S. The older I get, the more I wonder if any of my memories are true or just imagined. If I don’t have a picture of it, I feel like I can’t be certain it happened. It’s a tad upsetting.

Back to Fahrenheit 451!

Recently, I was searching for it on my bookshelf because my son had read 1984 and was looking for something similar.

I couldn’t find it. I guess I must have loaned it out or donated it when we moved to the desert and I had this wild idea about diminishing my library due to lack of space and fear of moving hundreds of heavy boxes out to the desert.

Don’t worry. That will never happen again.

I went to order a new copy online and decided to try getting a used one again. Bad idea.

An Image of my Current Copy

Apparently “good condition” means different things to different people, so from now on I will only buy used books in person so that I can thumb through and be sure it doesn’t look like this. I’m tired of paying $4 or $5 for a book that looks like someone was doodling in it. I love books with notes, but this is a tad overkill. And, just some little advice, pencil is so much nicer for the next reader because it’s more easily overlooked.

I looked up the old movie from 1966, thinking I might try watching it again. As I recall, it was a pretty boring presentation, but pretty close to the telling of the book. As I was searching for it, I found a new version from 2018, so I think I’ll give that one a try when I’m done reading.

I’m reading the 60th anniversary edition (2013) with an introduction by Neil Gaiman. Introductions are my new favorite part of the book. I’m fascinated by the context they give.

“Ideas – written ideas – are special. They are the way we transmit our stories and our thoughts from one generation to the next. If we lose them, we lose our shared history. We lose much of what makes us human. And fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gift of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.”

That’s why I write here on this blog every day. I tell my story each day, little by little, inspired to the surface by the words and thoughts of others.

I’m sixty pages into Fahrenheit 451 and I’m already spilling over with things to comment on and talk about. I wish you were here with me so we could read it together. Each time I come across a line that strikes my soul, I could look over at you and say, “Did you read this part?!” and we could talk about it, get some more coffee, maybe a donut, and then keep reading.

Have you read it? Did you see the movie? What did you think? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Read more at
Tyranny of the Majority or “We Vote Against You”
Hopeful Dystopian Fiction: Fahrenheit 451

Mystery Solved, But I Wanted More

My first thought as I finished “M is for Malice” was, sure, the mystery solved, but I’m still not a big fan of the genre. That fact is a good thing because, holy Toledo, she wrote A LOT of these, and I just don’t have the time to add that much fiction to my must read dream list.

That being said, I did enjoy the book. It was not a bad book, and I don’t mean that in a “not good, either” kind of way. It was great! It felt classic with a twist. And a strong female protagonist, that isn’t one of those “I hate men” kind? Yes, please.

Kinsey is a down-to-earth, intelligent, independent (and vulnerable) woman that I really connected with. She jumped off the page as someone I could be great friends with. And the more I read, the more I loved her. We had a lot of common.

Like I said in my first post about this book, my cousin introduced me to it as something her and her mother (one of my favorite “instant like” people) used to read a lot of. I was hesitant to pick it up at first. I’m not a fan of mysteries and most modern novels leave me wishing I had spent the time in a classic. “Hold the phone,” I thought. If this is a character one that my (much loved) aunt and cousin loved, wouldn’t it be likely that I’d love them too?

Now I’m sitting here wishing I could ask my aunt what she loved about the books so much. Stupid mortality.

My final thoughts on this book are these: great book, loved Kinsey, loved the progression of the story (although I immediately knew who really did it when that character entered, I was just reading on to find out how and why). Loved that it was set in Southern California, along with all the description of the weather and beaches, etc. I loved Kinsey’s complicated relationship with Dietz and wanted to know more, hoping it would grow and mature.

There were parts of the book that felt superfluous, descriptions of things that I didn’t feel made the story move forward or give me insight. They were colorful and enjoyable, but extra. And the story and characters are simple and straightforward. I craved more depth, more twist, more discovery of their souls. This felt like tv, which I love, but I wanted more.

I liked it. I’m glad I read it. And I’m looking forward to reading some of the fan fiction my cousin is dreaming up. Maybe I’ll post some here if she’ll let me!

If you missed my first thoughts on this book, click back to “M is for Malice: New Read.”

M is For Malice: New Read

M is For Malice is completely new to me. Believe it or not, my dear reader, I had never heard of Sue Grafton until my cousin mentioned her.

m is for malice

Cousin…that’s what you call your uncle’s ex-wife’s daughter, right? My family can get a tad convoluted. We don’t care. If you’re my parents age, you’re an aunt or uncle. If you’re my age, you’re a cousin. That’s how we roll!

The story goes like this, my cousin messaged me about wanting to write some fan fiction about a certain character from a series of books that I’ve never read by an author I’d never heard of. We thought maybe we could help each other out by having someone to be accountable to, but I’m not going to be much help if I don’t know anything about the character.

Time for some research!

I know from some exploration that M is for Malice is not the first book in this series, but I’ve also read the books stand alone, so it doesn’t really matter where you start and since she mentioned she had started with this one, so will I.

One caveat, I’m not a big fan of murder mysteries, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate them. This past year, I have stumbled across two other books in this genre and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. The first was “Prayer for the Dead” by David Wiltse (1991) and it said it was a “thriller” but felt more like a murder mystery/detective story to me. And the second was “The Big Sleep” by Raymond Chandler (1939), THE original classic. And I have yet to watch the movie of that one…bad me! I promise to get that on my watch list ASAP! I had forgotten about it until just now.

Look a chicken!

I’m curious how this book will compare to the others I’ve read. Published in 1996, with a female author and protagonist, I’m sure it will be different. But how? And what about the era? The Big Sleep was written in 1939 and the characters were gorgeous, very much reflecting the time they were written in. Prayer for the Dead was also written in the 90’s but with an all-male cast with a male point of view. Will I “connect” with this book more because of its female perspective? I’m excited to find out.

In fact, I think I’ll start reading right now!

Have you read “M is For Malice” in the past, or any of Sue Grafton’s other books? What did you think? Inquiring minds want to know!

Want to read my final thoughts on this book? Hop over to “Mystery Solved, But I Wanted More”

Short Stories: What makes a good story?

The following are my reactions to each of the twenty short stories in “The Best American Short Stories – 2014,” in order of appearance.

Loved. Meh. Anticlimactic. Painful. Eek. Oh, my heart. Interesting. O.K.… Did I miss something? Wow. Felt like that went nowhere. Nice. Made me feel something but why? Beautiful. Eek. Ouch. Nope. Oh man. A dog’s point of view. Again…I have no idea why you told me this story.

short stories

I think that what makes a good story is subjective. We might be able to put our finger on what really makes a bad story, but a good one? I think it’s an impossible task. These weren’t bad stories, but most of them just didn’t speak to me. I felt lost as to why they were telling me these things. Then again, I’m not much of a deep reader. I like things spelled out for me, the same way I like reality to be spelled out. Don’t beat around the bush! What are you trying to say? I don’t have time to decipher what you’re thinking.

Someone else may have loved every single one. What is a good story? Depends on how you view the world, what you want, and how you think.

I did enjoy the book though. It was not a waste of nearly twelve hours of my life. There were some amazing scenes. Some were heart breaking and some lifted my spirits. I also learned something; I could write things like this. It’s not my style, my talent, or my subject matter holding me back. It’s my fear of rejection.

I’ve pulled out a few of my favorite quotes for you. Enjoy!

“Wildflowers bloom without worry.” Long Tom Lookout by Nicole Cullen

“He kept this dangerous knowledge inside him where it tightened and squeezed, but where it couldn’t menace the greater world.” At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners by Lauren Groff

“The eyes of other people distracted her; the way those eyes begged for an instant intimacy wasn’t just an imposition, it was an affront. An assault, even.” This is Not a Love Song by Brendan Mathews

“What makes you so sure that what I ‘just know’ is any less reliable than what you ‘just know’?” Next to Nothing by Stephen O’Connor

“…’herd dreaming,’ which refers to a mass of people begin possessed by the same delusion: fainting epidemics, or nationalism, or the craze for teeth whitening.” Next to Nothing by Stephen O’Connor

“Do you have any secrets?” Antarctica by Laura Van Den Berg

I have another one of these collections of short stories and I’ll be reading it soon but reading this one has inspired me to submit some of my stories to magazines. I think I’ll make that a year end goal, make myself a post it and give myself a nice reward if I reach it.

Go back to my first post “The Best American Short Stores 2014: A New Read” to see where I started.

The Little Prince: New Read

Feeling a little down this week, so I decided to read a childhood favorite. I’ve read Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s memoir, “Earth, Sand, and Stars,” a few years ago and loved it so much that I still talk about it and recommend it as one of my favorite books. But I’ve never read “The Little Prince”. Crazy, huh?

the little prince
I tried to tell her I was highlighting her, that she’s beautiful even prickly, but she bit me anyway.

I didn’t know about it when I was a child, but I’d see “The Little Prince” on children’s bookshelves when my boys were younger and ask them if we should read it. They refused, already past the age that the cover and description would entice them. I wish I had discovered it earlier, but I’m sure they’ll come around again and read it eventually, maybe to their own children.

Each time I have a few minutes, I pick this book up and read a page and find myself transported back to “Earth, Sand, and Stars.” I love it so far, and I believe I’ll just keep this book with me all the time, ready on stand-by just in case I need a dose of joy and wonder.

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again.”

That’s the truth. Maybe that’s why I have such a hard time talking to people sometimes. I’ve never grown up and explaining what I’m imagining and how it connects becomes exhausting. I’m left wondering if anyone will ever let their mind wander a little and meet me along the path to Neverland, or in the Tulgey Wood.

The page I read last night inspires me to start drawing again. I used to love to draw, but I’ve lost the imagination and the patience. I’ve felt rather lost to try anything new, to let go. I feel held back by something, fear and possibly, yes, most likely, ego. I’m afraid I have grown up or begun to get old. Terrifying thought.

Where do you run to when you get that feeling? Is it a book or an activity? Do you have friends there? Are they waiting for you to return?

The Best American Short Stories – 2014

Like all books in my collection, The Best American Short Stories – 2014 has an origin story. All books have their own origin story, of course. The question here is, “How did this book find its way to me?” I’ll tell you: from a used bookstore in Lake Elsinore that I had been jonesing to check out for over a year.

the best American short stories

Last year, on one of my epic “visiting friends” adventures, I saw a billboard on the side of the freeway that advertised a HUGE used bookstore inside the outlet mall at Lake Elsinore. I’d never been to this so-called outlet mall. I didn’t even know it existed. The only outlet mall I regularly peruse (because it’s close and has some great stores and food…glorious food) is the Cabazon one on the I10 freeway. If you’re ever out this way, stop. It’s an experience if you have time to really walk the whole thing, and I’m not talking about shopping.

What kind of an outlet mall has a used bookstore?! That’s what I was thinking as I passed the sign by. It stuck with me though. I must check this out, I thought to myself, but I didn’t until a year later. I was in the area visiting a friend and we were looking for something to do. It was hot…as the area typically is over the summer…oppressively hot. Where could we go to walk around?

“That mall has a used bookstore.” I suggested.

“Have you ever been there?”

Neither of us had, so we decided to go see what we could find.

Let’s just say it was…anti-climactic, much like this blog post. The mall itself is old, like it’s stuck in 1991, and it is outdoors with very little shade at all, not exactly what I had hoped for at these temperatures. I really don’t understand the lack of shade trees in Southern California. BUT there’s a used bookstore!

A quick look around, past the kettle corn tent and directions to the Covid testing site, and there it was. My heart sunk when I approached the corner building. A few shabby old shelves were dwarfed by the large expanse of glass windows they were displayed in. It looked more like a half-empty thrift store. This was not what I was expecting at all. Where was the romance? Where was the dark corner with an easy chair, the smell of old paper and cardboard, the fat cat lounging between shelves bulging with hidden treasures, the sexy bookworm boy I might find stocking shelves? There wasn’t even coffee.

Maybe I read too much. Well…we were already here. We might as well go inside and see what we can find.

One positive – it was easy to find things. The shelves were labeled well. One could easily thumb through all the titles, nothing double stacked or hidden. Not much adventure in that, but you never know, there could be a gem or two hidden away. Another positive: they were cheap! $1 or $2 a piece. I could buy whatever I want. Even if I decided not to read it later, I wouldn’t have wasted much money.

I walked away with ten books that day. Yep. Ten. I paid $16 and was very happy. I found a few interesting memoirs, three anthologies like The Best American Short Stories, and two historical fiction books that looked promising.

Another bonus, there was Dairy Queen across the way from the bookstore where I promptly ordered a Banana Split Blizzard, only to find they don’t have them anymore. “Do you still sell banana splits?” I asked. She nodded. “Can’t you just put one in the Blizzard machine?” She just stared at me. I got a Thin Mint Blizzard instead.

When I went to my TBR shelf last night (can’t pick a new book right when I wake up), my eye was drawn to this book. I need something a little lighter, maybe a tad more fun than what I’ve been reading lately. I think this will fit the bill nicely.

I started the morning by reading the Forward and Introduction from the editors, curious to know a little about the process of collecting twenty short stories and calling them “best.” I woke up late this morning and had planned on only reading through one cup of coffee, but once I started reading the first story I couldn’t just walk away. It ended up taking two cups of coffee and a few minutes of reflection. That’s the glory of short stories. You know the resolution will come soon, no need to pause and finish later. It’s a quickie.

Do you like short stories? Where do you find yours? Online, blogs? Magazines? I’ve written a few of my own and you can find them on Short Stories: My Attempt at Emulating my Heroes.

H.G. Wells, You Old So-And-So!

H.G. Wells drawing
Inside Cover of my Ace Edition

I’m not sure why this drawing is printed on the inside cover of my H.G. Wells book. It looks like strange tank my sons would have drawn when they were kids. The weapons vehicle that he described most in this book was a helicopter like thing.

In the immortal words of “Men on Books,” hated it!

“Hated it” is too much, really. I just never got into it. I’m not a big fan of H.G. Wells at all. His books are filled with descriptions that never capture my imagination. His narrative follows the action and scene more than the feelings and motives of the character. I’m not saying they’re bad books. My boys and my husband love them. They just aren’t my cup of tea, I guess.

The part I found so strange was that Graham never seemed to understand that he was being used by both sides. He had slept for two-hundred years and by some strange sequence of events he actually hadn’t set in motion, he awoke to be the “owner” of more than half the world. Money had been invested in his name while he slept and had multiplied. Since he never died, only slept, when he awoke all that money went to him.

But how would anyone expect him to manage things after being out of the loop that long. He didn’t know anything. So much had changed. You could say that human nature hadn’t changed in that amount of time. He could have used his knowledge of humanity to get up to speed and manage well, but he didn’t have much when he went to sleep. He was just your average Joe, not a leader of men. I just didn’t get it.

Maybe I’m missing something. This is one of those times that I’d love to hear other people’s take on this book. I did a quick search for commentary but didn’t find much.

There were things I did enjoy in the book, though.

He described television, in 1899. “It was exactly like the reality viewed through an inverted opera glass and heard through a long tube.”

And “He clung to his anger – because he was afraid of Fear.”

Ah, yes, I know the feeling and I’m sure it’s what drives many people throughout the ages. It’s also something others use to gather crowds of followers and start wars. Charismatic leaders use people’s fear and say things like, “Those are the people that are ruining things! We must destroy them!” I used to think that didn’t happen often but I’m starting to see I was very wrong. It’s happening again, right now.

“You will be expected to say something,” said Ostrog. “Not what you used to call a Speech, but what our people call a Word – just one sentence, six or seven words. Something formal. If I might suggest – ‘I have awakened and my heart is with you.’ That is the sort of thing they want.”

You mean a Tweet? That seems to be all anyone wants to hear from our leaders these days. Don’t give me whole ideas and thoughts. A simple one liner that I can interpret to mean whatever I want and can easily re-tweet or share.

“Thence, too, flashed the world-wide messages, the falsehoods of the news-tellers, the chargers of the telephonic machines that had replaced the newspapers of the past.”

He called them “babble machines.” We call it tv news and social media.

“I want reality not realism.”

Reality: The quality or state of being actual or true.

And

Realism: An inclination toward literal truth and pragmatism.

Reality is the physical world you live in. Realism is the book or movie about it. I agree with Graham. I’d like more reality and less realism. I’d like to live and breathe in the actual world, not see it on tv or read about in in books. Sometimes, that is. If I could see reality through my screen or in print, instead of someone else’s interpretation of reality, that would be nice.

By the way, I love this old, mass-produced book by Ace Books, probably published in the early 70’s. It has an ad for cigarettes in the middle, and originally sold for 75 cents.

When was the last time you saw an ad for cigarettes in your book?

Yes, there were some archaic and racist ways of thinking in this book. There were references to the “yellow peril” and “negros.” Socialism was a main theme, or really the lack of socialism. Graham had hopes for bright Socialist future, one that Marx promised moving through Capitalism would bring, but he found something very different. I’m sure someone out there has written much about that.

Old sci-fi and dystopian fiction is interesting because it sheds light on where creative people believed the world was headed. Sometimes they get so close and then so far away from where history takes us. This one wasn’t one of my favorites, but it wasn’t a waste of time. If I had infinite time, I’d go back and read it again after I read a few other books. A better grasp on H.G. Well’s politics would be helpful.

Go back to my first post about this book, “When the Sleeper Wakes: New Read” You’ll find links to my other posts there as well.

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