Duck Duck Book

4 – wicked
10.13.2004, 12:04 am
Filed under: fiction

Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West; a novel / Gregory Maguire.
New York : ReganBooks, 1995.
[MCL call number: FICTION MAGUIRE; 22 copies, 104 holds;
also in audio book format at MCL call number: CASSETTE Fiction MAGUIRE; five copies, four holds]

What would the story of Oz be like, if told from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West? Elphaba (the Witch) is indeed green skinned and seems like she’d be somewhat difficult to be around; but she is also intelligent, ethical, and actually quite charismatic. And the other people of Oz? The Wicked Witch of the East, Glinda the Good, Dorothy, the Wizard, and many more are unimaginably different than when we last met them, but they still contain the essence of the characters in the stories I read as a child. I’m not quite sure how to recommend this book, except to say that I was very quickly drawn in and found that Oz with Elphaba was much, much more fascinating than Oz with Dorothy.


4 – death of a nationalist
10.13.2004, 12:03 am
Filed under: fiction

Death of a nationalist / Rebecca Pawel.
New York : Soho, c2003.
[MCL call number: MYSTERY PAWEL; eight copies, no holds]

(It might be good to keep in mind as you read this recommendation that I’m a bit of a mystery junkie.)

Pawel’s debut novel is a mystery set in Spain, just after the Civil War, with a detective I wouldn’t have thought I could easily find sympathetic — Barcelona Guardia Civil sergeant Carlos Tejada Alonso y León. Tejada’s best friend is shot to death on the street, and he naturally assumes the woman standing over the body, who seems like a Red anyway, is guilty. So he shoots her. And then, afterwards he tries to figure out who really killed his friend. Stupid, huh? Well, the book surprised me, I became quite fond of Tejada (facist or no), and I did not guess the ending or the solution. Pawel has since written another book about Tejada, Law of Return, which I found to be just as good; and a third, Watcher in the Pine, is due out next February.

4 – pirates
10.13.2004, 12:02 am
Filed under: fiction

Pirates! : the true and remarkable adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, female pirates / Celia Rees.
New York : Bloomsbury, 2003.
[MCL call number: y REES; 15 copies, no holds;
also in large type format at MCL call number: LGE-TYPE y REES; six copies, no holds]

This book tells the somewhat unrealistic story, set in the 1720s, of Nancy Kington, a young English woman who is transported somewhat against her will to Jamaica and treated like property by the men in her family. She rebels, and, through a series of events that I won’t detail here, runs away with another young woman, Minerva Sharpe. Minerva is a slave and has also been treated like property by the men in Nancy’s family. They become pirates, and a lot of travelling, pillaging, swashbuckling, and some mildly alarming sexual assault ensues. But the two girls take care of each other and (thank goodness!) there is a happy ending.

This is not really a book that makes one think, and it’s not ‘great literature.’ But it is a good, ripping read, and focuses on female characters who live their own lives, solve their own problems, and build a realistic relationship with each other. I enjoyed it.

4 – oregon history project
10.13.2004, 12:01 am
Filed under: history & geography, websites

The Oregon history project / Oregon Historical Society.

A digital collection of materials relating to Oregon History. The collection is structured around narrative histories of Portland, the Klamath Basin, Southwestern Oregon, the Lewis & Clark Exposition of 1905, and the state as a whole; but it includes photographs, digitized documents, maps, and many little bits and pieces of Oregon history. Some of it is well written, and some of it sucks (I’ve even found an error), but on the whole it’s useful and the pictures are really interesting. One nice thing about the photographs is that the illustrations are provided with pretty extensive annotations.

For example, see a photograph of the first version of the Morrison Street Bridge in 1889, or take a look at a picture of Portland’s Ku Klux Klan, c.1922.