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review 2018-01-16 01:03
The Snow Leopard
The Snow Leopard - Peter Matthiessen



Damn. This book started out so well.


However, after only a few pages it seems to have turned into a version of Log from the Sea of Cortez, complete with philosophical and religious musings on the author's own life, his experimenting with different drugs, and his understanding of Buddhism - in none of which I have any interest at all.


The parts where Matthiessen describes the natural environment of his trek through Nepal are fascinating. Unfortunately, these are too few and too far between for my enjoyment.


I read 85 pages, then skipped to the end. The only sighting of the snow leopard is literally mentioned in the last 3 pages - and he doesn't go into much detail because he wasn't even there. He simply included a very short letter from George Schaller which briefly stated that he did manage to see one in the end (and after Matthiessen had returned home). 


I get that there may be some beauty in Matthiessen's writing, his musings, and his dealing with grief after the loss of his wife, but all that esoteric babble just isn't for me, especially not when I expected the book to focus more on the expedition and the wildlife.  



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text 2018-01-15 21:39
Reading progress update: I've read 13 out of 312 pages.
The Snow Leopard - Peter Matthiessen

GS is the zoologist George Schaller. I knew him first in 1969, in the Serengeti Plain of East Africa, where he was working on his celebrated study of the lion. When I saw him next, in New York City in the spring of 1972, he had started a survey of wild sheep and goats and their near relatives the goat-antelopes. He wondered if I might like to join him the following year on an expedition to northwest  Nepal, near the frontier of Tibet, to study the bharal, or Himalayan blue sheep; it was his feeling, which he meant to confirm, that this strange "sheep" of remote ranges was actually less sheep than goat, and perhaps quite close to the archetypal ancestor of both.

Page 1 of the main text of this book has been a roller-coaster of events already: starting with exclamations of "Shut up!" at the surprise that there is such a fabulous creature as a "blue sheep" and resulting in the utter disappointment on finding out that the blue sheep are, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica:


"Blue sheepBlue sheep (genus Pseudois), also called bharal, either of two species of sheeplike mammals, family Bovidae (order Artiodactyla), that inhabit upland slopes in a wide range throughout China, from Inner Mongolia to the Himalayas. Despite their name, blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) are neither blue nor sheep."


Ugh. I am gutted.


They are kinda cute, tho.


[Photo Source]


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text 2018-01-14 01:28
Reading progress update: I've read 52 out of 112 pages.
Steed and Mrs. Peel Vol. 2 (Steed and Mrs. Peel: Ongoing) - Yasmin Liang,Caleb Monroe



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text 2018-01-13 23:05
In the mail today

So, the self-imposed book buying ban is not going well but there was no way I could miss out on these...



Thanks to Grim for making me aware that these exist. What's even better is that they look absolutely gorgeous.

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review 2018-01-12 23:44
Murder in the Bud
Murder in the bud - Phyllis Bottome

"Has Ronnie any right to live - like that?" Hilda demanded fiercely.

"No - not like that," Dr. Silla agreed, "but even his having no 'right' is his own business. He might at any time see his mistake, and alter his way of living. We are at the mercy of our opinion of ourselves - or sometimes be events- or sometimes by others. Criminals are less final than their punishments."


I had been looking forward to this book. Phyllis Bottome was the author that allegedly inspired a young Ian Fleming to take up writing, and her book The Lifeline (1946) allegedly gave rise to the character of James Bond. Murder in the Bud is an earlier (1936) work by her, and I was intrigued to find out what her writing was like. Even if there were no discernible similarities or links to Fleming's work.


What I found was that Bottome's Murder in the Bud did not make for great reading. It may have been very daring in its time for talking about women having affairs and having sex outside of marriage, but too much of the book dwelt on the psychological explanations that were really far-fetched.


However much the psycho-babble may have annoyed me, it was nowhere near as far-fetched as the plot - this book is out of print and I assume that very few readers will rush out to procure a copy, so I have not added spoiler tags (if you are going to read on, you have been warned):


Hilda, our MC, is jilted by Ronnie, her ex-lover. Ronnie is a cad, but he is also her family's lodger, and following the break with Hilda, he now is in pursuit of her little sister, Annie (she's about 18 or 19). Upset by all of this, Hilda decides to kill Ronnie.

I would have thought this was a bit unreasonable. Surely, Hilda could have just turned him out of the house, but she's afraid of fessing up to her parents about the affair because she thinks it would tarnish her reputation, and that of her family etc.
I have no idea why she makes such a fuss about telling her parents because she tells literally everyone else she meets - even perfect strangers.
Anyway, this is all a bit ridiculous, right? The next thing Hilda, a typist, does is to pretend to be one of her clients, a Czech neuroscientist/psychiatrist who is giving a guest lecture in London. Hilda omits to send of a letter declining an invitation to a medical lab and visits the lab herself, dressed as her client Dr. Silla. While she is shown around the lab by a young scientist (who quickly develops a crush on her), Hilda steals two tubes of toxic bacteria.
At this point in the book, I was still not convinced that Ronnie, the ex, deserved all this. And there is no thought about her committing several crimes instead of just tossing him out...
What made me laugh very hard was when I looked up what she stole - her means of killing Ronnie was not some ordinary poison or something sophisticated that could not be traced back to her. No, it was a Shiga culture.
Yup - she planned to kill him with dysentery. 
I don't need to explain how ridiculous this idea is - and that she may have harmed or killed the rest of her family at the same time as it would have been contagious...but there was something hilarious about the idea of killing the shitbag with ... well....erm....yeah.
It never happens, tho. The Czech neuroscientist/psychiatrist/mindreader talks her out of it. She also talks the ex-lover out of being a douchebag.
The end.
This was such a weird book. 
It was as fascinating as it was ... just hilariously bad.
So, while there were no links to Fleming's work in this book, I can see how Fleming may have been inspired to roll with his own ridiculous plots.
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