The approximation of a Newfoundland accent

“Well, Agnis girl, what’ll you ‘ave today?” The waitress beamed at the aunt. “I’ll have the stewed cod, Pearl. Cuppa tea, of course. This here is my nephew, works for the paper.” “Oh yis, I sees him afore. In ‘ere the odder day wit’ Billy. ‘Ad the squidburger.” “That I did,” said Quoyle. “Delicious.” “Skipper Will, y’know, ‘e invented the squidburger. Y’ll ‘ave it today, m’dear?”

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

This is the first true approximation of a thick Newfoundland accent in the book.

Agnis Hamm goes home

She had not been in these waters since she was a young girl, but it rushed back, the sea’s hypnotic boil, the smell of blood, weather and salt, fish heads, spruce smoke and reeking armpits, the rattle of wash- ball rocks in hissing wave, turrs, the crackery taste of brewis, the bedroom under the eaves.

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

Petal Bear. Thin, moist, hot.

THEN, at a meeting, Petal Bear. Thin, moist, hot.

Grey eyes close together, curly hair the color of oak. The fluorescent light made her as pale as candle wax. Her eyelids gleamed with some dusky unguent. A metallic thread in her rose sweater.

Petal Bear was crosshatched with longings, but not, after they were married, for Quoyle.

While she remained a curious equation that attracted many mathematicians.

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

Born To Run by Christopher McDougall

220px-Born2runFull title: Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

My friend Joe Boydston recommended this book to me. I attended one of his running clinics at the Automattic Grand Meetup in Park City, Utah in September. In a short hour, Joe changed the way I approach my training and after applying his tips to my runs, I’ve been given a whole new lease on an activity I’ve been doing off and on for over 20 years. I knew I had to read this book.

Born To Run is one part adventure story, one part science, one part anthropology, and one part sheer guts. As an oft-injured runner, McDougall opens the book lamenting another injury. He’s trying to figure out what he’s doing wrong in an activity that’s natural to all humans.

Conventional science says that running is guaranteed to tear our bodies down over time with the repetitive pounding, yet by investigating science, history, and anthropology, McDougall discovers that the human body — with it’s upright form maximized for air intake, springy, rubber-band-like tendons geared to storing and returning energy repeatedly over long durations, and our well-muscled buttocks — has evolved into a running machine, dispelling the myth that as runners, we’re slowly ruining our bodies over time. 

McDougall posits that we get injured because we use high-tech running shoes as a crutch, and that these cushy shoes create more running injuries than they cure. The book talks of the foot as a marvel of evolutionary engineering that we as a society have allowed to let languish in shoes, essentially weakening our foundation, causing supination, and over pronation — the very form problems shoes, braces, and orthotics are meant to cure. Strengthen the foot, and improve your running form, says McDougall.

The anthropological study of the evolution of The Running Man is accompanied narratively by stories of The Tarahumara, a race of Indians in the remote Mexican Copper Canyons, who run ultra marathons in the mountains for the fun of it. The culmination of the book is an epic 50-‘mile ultra marathon in the Carrabancas pitting ultra-marathoner extraordinaire Scott Jurek against some eccentric and somewhat crazy American athletes and a group of Tarahumarans —  a race arranged by a running-crazed drifter called Caballo Blanco.

The pacing of the book is excellent — it’s difficult to put down and it’s a very enjoyable read. One thing that struck me is that the book opens with McDougall’s running injury, and ends as he completes the Carrabancan ultra. The reader gets occasional advice on the way he revises his form –(easy, light), back straight, head up, knees up, short strides at a cadence of 180 steps per minute — though I would have loved to know more about his personal recovery and how these principles changed his approach to running.

October, 2014

The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan

WoT05_TheFiresOfHeaven In the final 150 pages of The Fires of Heaven — book five of the Wheel of Time series — Robert Jordan hits his storytelling stride.

While this book — like all the others — covers a lengthy, often tedious journey to an epic battle, the battles were worth the time I spent reading the book. Bossy hypocrite Nynaeve squares off against dark wench Moghedien not once but twice. Rand defeats Rhavin in a balefire duel and finally learns that his well-meaning yet chivalrous unwillingness to put women in danger has cost him one close ally as Moiraine sacrifices herself against Lanfear.

While all of the characters (even Nynaeve) evolve and grow within the scope of this book, the ever-present stereotypical Women! Who can understand them?!? / Men! They’re all wool-headed fools! idiocy detracts from and cheapens what could become a much deeper narrative about men and women and relationships.

Perrin Aybara makes no appearance in book five. What’s going on in the Two Rivers? On to book six to find out.

September and October, 2014

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

WoT03_TheDragonReborn

The Dragon Reborn is book three of the Wheel of Time series. In book three, Rand appears only briefly as the book follows Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve’s storyline as Aes Sedai, interspersed with chapters from Perrin’s and Mat’s point of views. As a reader it was disappointing not only to know what would happen at the end of the book before reading it (Rand goes another round vs. B’alzamon. Who knew?) but also to find out the epic battle you’ve been waiting 600 pages for is short, perfunctory, and unsatisfying. It’s almost as if Robert Jordan became bored while writing the book. There’s almost no denouément whatsoever.

I’m currently reading book four, The Shadow Rising though not sure if I’ll continue reading the series beyond that.

July, 2014

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

WoT02_TheGreatHunt The first half of The Great Hunt (book two of the Wheel of Time) series, suffers from the same tedium as The Eye of the World. The last third of the book is action-packed and nearly impossible to put down. Getting there is a bit of a slog, at times.

What intrigued me most were some very cool scenes that mirror the superposition principle of quantum physics. As Rand moves through the Portal Stone to Toman Head, he experiences the many variations of the path his life could have taken: with Egwene, without Egwene, honouring his position as the Dragon Reborn or rejecting it.

The sul’dam and the damane were compelling, yet revolting and bizarre at the same time. This idea of magical slavery was so brutal and cruel that as a reader, you want to see the Seanchan come back somewhere in the series so that you can see their empire destroyed.

The visit to Stedding Tsofu late in the book reveals more about Ogier life and culture — some of the most interesting scenes in the book.

Character development has improved in The Great Hunt, though the fact that some characters can survive battles and slavery and remain so innocent is baffling and annoying at the same time.

May and June, 2014