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review 2018-12-20 00:04
24 Festive Tasks: Door 23 - Hogswatch, Book
Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett
Hogfather: Discworld, Book 20 - Nigel Planer,Terry Pratchett

... and another yearly Christmas tradition right here, the annual Hogfather reread.  Or relisten (thank Heaven for Nigel Planer's narration).

 

Much has already been shared (and the whole book is one huge piece of quotable writing, of course), but anyway, this is one of my favorite bits not mentioned by anybody else yet:

     "In the glittering, clattering, chattering atmosphere a head waiter was having a difficult time.  There were a lot of people in, and the staff should have been fully stretched, putting bicarbonate of soda in the white wine to make very expensive bubbles and cutting the vegetables very small to make them cost more.

     Instead they were standing in a dejected group in the kitchen.

     Where did it all go?' screamed the manager. Someone's been through the cellar, too!'

     'William said he felt a cold wind,' said the waiter.  He'd been backed up against a hot plate, and now knew why it was called a hot plate in a way he hadn't fully comprehended before.

     'I'll give him a cold wind!  Haven't we got anything?'

     'There's odds and ends ... '

     'You don't  mean odds and ends, you mean des curieux et des bouts', corrected the manager.

     'Yeah, right, yeah.  And, er, and, er ...'

     'There's nothing else?'

     'Er ... old boots.  Muddy old boots.'

     'Old -- ?'

     'Boots.  Lots of 'em,' said the waiter.  He felt he was beginning to singe.

     'How come we've got ... vintage footwear?'

     'Dunno.  They just turned up, sir.  The oven's full of old boots.  So's the pantry.'

     'There's a hundred poeple booked in!  All the shops'll be shut!  Where's Chef?'

     'William's trying to get him to come out of the privy, sir.  He's locked himself in and is having one of his Moments.'

     'Something's cooking.  What's that I can smell?'

     'Me, sir.'

     'Old boots ...' muttered the manager.  'Old boots ... old boots ... Leather, are they?  Not clogs or rubber or anything?'

     'Looks like ... just boots.  And lots of mud, sir.'

     The manager took off his jacket.  'All right.  Got any cream , have we?  Onions?  Garlic?  Butter?  Some old beef bones?  A bit of pastry?'

     ' Er, yes ...'

     The manager rubbed his hands together.  'Right,' he said, taking an apron off a hook.  'You there, get some water boiling!  Lots of water!  And find a really large hammer!  And you, chop some onions!  The rest of you, start sorting out the boots.  I want the tongues out and the soles off.  We'll do them ... let's see ... Mousse de la Boue dans un Panier de la Pâte de Chaussures ...'

     'Where're we going to get that from, sir?'

     'Mud mousse in a basket of shoe pastry.  Get the idea?  It's not our fault if even Quirmians don't understand restaurant Quirmian.  It's not like lying, after all.'

     'Well, it's a bit like --' the waiter began.  He'd been cursed with honesty at an early stage.

     'Then there's Brodequin rôti Façon Ombres ...'

     The manager sighed at the head waiter's panicky expression.  'Soldier's boot done in the Shades fashion,' he translated.

     'Er ... Shades fashion?'

     'In mud.  But if we cook the tongues separately we can put on Languette braisée, too.'

     'There's some ladies' shoes, sir,' said an under-chef.

     'Right.  Add to the menu ... Let's see now ... Sole d'une Bonne Femme ... and ... yes ... Servis dans un Coulis de Terre en l'Eau.  That's mud, to you.'

     'What about the laces, sir?' said another under-chef.

     'Good thinking.  Dig out the reicpe for Spaghetti Carbonara.'"

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review 2018-12-05 15:00
24 Festive Tasks: Door 4 - Diwali, Book -- as well as Discworld December Group Read
The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett
The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett

The book where we learn how the Librarian of the Unseen University ended up as an orang-utan.  (This happens on the very first pages and anyone who's read at least one Discworld book knows this anyway, so I'm officially not considering it a spoiler.)  Other than that, more fun with Rincewind, Twoflower and the luggage, and more send-ups of  the1980s' life and times on our round blue planet, complete with Conan Cohen the Barbarian and a doomsday cult.  The picture box makes a reappearance, too, and we learn what Death is like when he's at home

and hanging out with the other three horsemen of the apocalypse -- and with his daughter.

(spoiler show)

  Also, there are dine chewers (say that one aloud).  And trolls with a Scottish accent in the audio version.  And there's this, on the usefulness of books:

"Cohen was shocked.

'Bonfires of books?'

'Yes.  Horrible, isn't it?'

'Right,' said Cohen.  He thought it was appalling.  Someone who spent his life living rough under the sky knew the value of a good thick book, which ought to outlast at least a season of cooking fires if you were careful how you tore the pages out.  Many a life had been saved on a snowy night by a handful of sodden kindling and a really dry book.  If you felt like a smoke and couldn't find a pipe, a book was your man every time.

Cohen realized people wrote things in books.  It had always seemed to him to be a frivolous waste of paper."

To put this one to optimum use, since it's got the word "light" in the title I'll use it as my book for the Diwali square of 24 Festive Tasks.  In addition to which, of course, it is the Discworld group read book for December 2018.

 

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review 2018-12-01 18:20
24 Festive Tasks: Door 13 - Advent, Book (or Short Story, actually)
A Study in Emerald - Jouni Koponen,Neil Gaiman

 

Shout-out to Arbie and Moonlight, who mentioned this elsewhere, with Moonlight sharing the link to the free copy available on Neil Gaiman's website.  Thank you both!

 

Also a huge shout-out to the story's illustrator, Jouni Koponen, who created a Victorian newspaper / tabloid / penny dreadful look, complete with a set of cleverly done, frankly hilarious period style mock advertisements (which are actually the best part of the whole thing).

 

Gaiman likes to spin literature classics from other genres (notably mysteries) through the Cthulhu myth; I imagine the temptation to give Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes canon the Lovecraft treatment was irresistable.  That said, in-jokes and allusions to Conan Doyle abound in text, structure, plot and characters alike; all the way to the solution, which is patterned on that of one of Holmes's most famous cases. -- I'll never like any pastiche anywhere near as much as the original, but as Holmes pastiches go, this one is well done; true enough to the original not to come across as disrespectful or mocking and at the same time with enough of a spin to make it clear that this cannot possibly be anything other than a pastiche.  From what little I know of the Cthulhu myth, I would hope that Lovecraft readers would say the same.

 

This came just in time for the Advent square in 24 Festive Tasks, so I'll claim it as my read for that square.

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text 2018-10-06 17:33
Reading progress update: I've read 332 out of 332 pages.
Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett

One of those Discworld books that only get better with every single reread.  Pratchett absolutely hit his stride with this ... one of my all-time favorites, by far not for the Shakespeare references alone.

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text 2018-09-26 11:36
Reading progress update: I've read 162 out of 219 pages.
Prince Zaleski and Cummings King Monk - M.P. Shiel

What an odd mixture of mystery and gothic horror.  Clearly in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe ... with elements of Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and G.B. Shaw mixed in for good measure.

 

Thank you, Tigus, for a second contribution to my Halloween Bingo reads!

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