And so concludes the accidental trilogy encompassing how we got here, long view (Astrophysics for People in a Hurry), why things are shite (because Sapiens), and who’s to blame (hint: it’s men). Accidental because I had no idea how well these three actually fit together, and I totally lucked out choosing the correct order to read them. And, not unlike Sapiens, Mad Blood Stirring starts out strong and then falters, devolving into an autobiography with heavy focus on the Fairless’s mother and their relationship. There are five chapters. The first three are very good. The fourth could have been good, but goes sideways. The fifth attempts to tie into the book’s intended theme, but it’s a stretch such that by the end I wasn’t quite sure what the theme is. The title is a line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, spoken by Benvolio — the guy that tries to play the play’s peacemaker. Throughout the intro and chapter one Fairless has a bit of a Benvolio-complex (I just made that up), but that disappears by chapter five (along with the editor, apparently). The intro and first three chapters are really very good, worth reading, and could easily stand on their own serialized elsewhere. Fairless’s style is to present a main focus then intersperse asides throughout the chapter. Sometimes it works very well. Other times not so much. The fourth chapter is good in the parts that he focuses on the chapter’s main theme and “the killer”. In the fifth our narrator loses the plot. Or maybe I do. Regardless, my thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for the review copy.
I went to physiotherapy on Wednesday and it seems that I really am on the mend because she doesn’t want to see me for a few weeks as long as I behave and as long as there are no disasters during my attempts to behave. So I’ve been behaving, which is evident by the paltry 25 KM I ran this week. I’m currently 37 KM behind pace to reach 2,018 KM in 2018. I’m trying to behave, and by behave I mean to follow the advice of my physiotherapist to slowly add back distance and maintain rest time between runs. But I’m also trying to decide what I’m going to do with the BMO in May as I keep going back and forth between thinking I should just run the half or maybe just run the full without a full training session leading up to it and see what happens. I think regardless of what I run on May 6 I’m going to run the Victoria full in the fall. So while I’m mulling over what to do what I’m keeping forefront in mind is that I just want to stay healthy.
A pretty great debut work of experimental fiction that strikes rather of creative nonfiction. I found it difficult to get lost in the book because I found the writing style a lot of work, especially in the first third of the book. I can’t say if I got used to the style, or if there is a shift; Ada’s teen years forward until the story’s conclusion I found easier to read, harder to put down, and, for its content, difficult to enjoy. But I found the story compelling and the writing ambitious and exceptional. This novel found its way onto many “most anticipated” lists and for that it doesn’t disappoint. I expect it will end up on a few 2018 best ofs and award nominations, too. Thanks to Grove Press for the review copy.
Easing back into it after the knee twist, I ran three times this week, with subtle increases each session and surprisingly pleasant results. Speed is way down, but I hardly care about that right now. Knee has been cooperative, and optimistically, it has felt better-than-okay the evening and day after. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high. On Wednesday I will discuss with my physiotherapist and determine what I’m going to do about the West Van 10K next weekend. I feel pretty good about running it, but I don’t want to push anything too early and have another set back. Today I was looking back at my 2017 training log; I ran the first LSD of my BMO Full plan 50 weeks ago, which makes me think that I still have a bit of time to decide what I’m going to do with race day May 6. But for now I just need to focus on getting healthy first, and working on getting some speed back.
When number forty-five was elected president I believed (hoped, maybe?) that the west coast states would secede. Or at least break out into civil war. It still could happen. I’m not so sure about British Columbia joining Cascadia but whatever. But now with this ridiculous trade war over wine and oil that B.C. is caught up in with the petulant, spoilt child that is Alberta, who knows. American War imagines America has finally caught up with reality and sees no future in fossil fuels but the South loses its mind being told it has to drive solar cars and so there’s a civil war. Sounds familiar, except wine. Or maybe sounds ominous. The book follows the life of Sarat Chestnut, not a northerner and not quite a southerner either. I really liked this book — a post-apocalyptic hellscape sans the nuclear winter. The scenario actually seems more plausible than the impending radioactive mass extinction that we’re currently potentially facing. For better or for worse (as far as reading is concerned, for worse) American War drew me back into playing Fallout 4. As if I needed another excuse. I thought this book was great, especially for being El Akkad’s first novel. His depiction of the war-torn South is vivid and the characters are very well developed. Plus a strong female protagonist that I cared about in spite of disagreeing with her. This is a good read.
I took the week off running after the knee twist and shout at the First Half last week. A trip to physio and for some ultrasound and electroshock therapy helped a bit. Dr. Physio and I had an honest and frank discussion. I have three races on the horizon: West Van 10K is one I’m not happy to but willing to burn. My eye is still on the BMO in May, but I’m starting to think half instead of full, and then a full in Kelowna or Victoria in the fall. Then Helsinki is towards the end of May and I really, really don’t want to be traipsing around Skandinavia on a reruined knee.
Good news is that Dr. Physio ruled out ACL or any tearing, but clearly my meniscus is not so happy. She said I can swim, but I hate swimming, and she said I can ride my bicycle. I don’t mind riding my bicycle so I did a fair amount of that. But I also went for a tour of the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre down on Hornby — the one I walk past going to and from physio. It seems nice, and SC has been going steady there longer than with me. She seems to like it, and it’s nearly half the cost of the Robert Lee YM on Burrard. So I’m considering forcing myself to go swim once or twice a week, hate it or not, and it will be nice to have access to bikes for those rainy days, even if those bikes go nowhere.
This book showed up on both the Globe and Mail‘s and CBC’s “anticipated books of the first half of 2018,” which I don’t recall seeing from either of them for any other year or portion thereof but it could just be that I missed all the other ones though if indeed it is the first such list for both what layers of coincidence. I managed to wrangle myself a advanced/review copy (thanks Simon & Schuster!), which is a first for this blog…now in its third year…send me your books and I’ll maybe read and write some nonsense about them…. This is Nathan Ripley’s debut novel, whose real name is Naben Ruthnum and is certainly not his debut. Doppelganger debut. Anticipated though? I think this was originally titled Scrapbook and if that’s the case then I guess waiting since at least 2013 around when Ruthnum won the Journey Prize makes it anticipated. Anyway, Ripley creates this character Martin whom is so unlikeable that in the moments of suspense, or at least what I thought were meant to be suspenseful, I found myself hoping that the implied terrible things about to happen to Martin happened. The story is rather unique and I cannot write much about it here without giving stuff away, but there are some fantastic elements that even for one (like me) who is comfortable and capable of suspending reality may find rather far-fetched. The dialogue between Martin and his partner Ellen is at times pretty unbelievable. It’s nearly as bad as Martin’s internal monologue. Maybe because it’s in (Martin) first person? The book oscillates between Martin’s PoV and third-person narrative and it’s these the third-person parts that are the best of the book, especially the work and personal relationship between the two detectives Sandra and Chris. They’re so much more interesting than Martin. I could really go for more Sandra and Chris. The novel is fine. It’s a pretty quick and entertaining read. If there’s a sequel, I really hope its focus is Sandra and Chris.
One week until First Half half marathon and the forecast today calls for rain and maybe snow, but surely not snow like last year. I’ve contented myself with the fact that it’s going to be a long slow day next Sunday; I’m okay with that. But 12 weeks from the BMO Marathon does weigh a bit on my mind. I have started looking at alternative opportunities outside the Lower Mainland in the fall to achieve my 2018 goals. On the Seawall this morning I came upon a Sun Run training group and I got to wondering why trainers don’t bother to start with a little running etiquette 101 that includes stay to the right, pass on the left, and don’t run more than two abreast. That’s not so hard is it?