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.
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.
I’m slowly reading my way through Nelly Arcan. It’s not an easy journey. I love her writing style, though I feel like she makes me work hard. And the content isn’t exactly uplifting. Burqa of Skin is a collection of writing predominately reminiscing on an abhorrent (she had a few in her too short life) experience appearing on an episode of Tout le monde en parle (I think that’s the name of the program) on french CBC. I watched bits of it on YouTube, but I don’t understand french, much less Quebecois french, so I was left with trying to read body language. It would be interesting, though interesting is perhaps not the appropriate word, to watch it with English subtitles. I’m also slowly making my way through the CUE Books catalogue–an embarrassing admission, given that I was its managing editor for a little over two years. I didn’t plan on following Arcan with LaFrance’s species branding though the works seem to complement each other in their exploration of the treatment of women, sex workers, and marginalization. I thought species branding was great and deserves a wider readership and critical analysis. I know where you can get a copy, ahem…
Three bouts of physiotherapy and my knee is feeling much better and I’m starting to reramp-up my running to make up for lost time. My physiotherapist seems to agree, and suggests that I don’t need to see her again for a few weeks unless knee takes [another] turn for the worse. I feel like I’m behind. I know that I’m behind. I’m nearly to the end of January and I haven’t broken 100 kilometres yet, and I need to be somewhere near 150, although I expect to be running farther frequently come autumn. Still, I feel like I should be further along, though I really don’t want to hurt myself any more and make things worse. The weather has been cooperative for the most part, although I don’t mind running in poor weather; at the least it ensures fewer meandering idiots on the sea wall for me to run into. Which is nice.
I enjoyed Submission in spite of finding the narrator François rather unlikable. Not dislikable. I just didn’t feel anything for him one way or the other. I like how through François Michel Houellebecq seems to be poking fun at the ridiculous notion that Islam is coming to take over the West and annihilate its culture. It’s rather smart satire, I think, in spite of my limited knowledge of French culture and politics. The ending seemed a bit too predictable. A good read regardless. This is my first Houellebecq book and I will probably read more of his stuff. Although The Weather gets (or seems to get) the acclaim, I enjoyed Magenta Soul Whip more for reasons that I can’t quite put to keyboard. I think I prefer the rambling styling of The Weather versus the familiar poetic form found in Magenta, but still I enjoyed Magenta more so. I’m not sure why, and my aching knee that refuses to be dulled by any amount of wine is hindering adequate introspection.
I didn’t run much this week, as you can see from the paltry 6.33 km logged above. My knee has been agonizing so much so that I’ve decided to explore physiotherapy. I got the official blood test results and the doctor is indeed convinced that I pushed a little too hard and nothing much more. I talked to her about my knee and asked about physiotherapy and she agreed it was probably a good idea and recommended a place and therapist nearby. I’ve booked my first appointment for January 27 and in the meantime bought an over-the-counter knee brace from London Drugs for $50. At the very least I’m hoping for a bit of placebo.