Thursday, October 9, 2008

New books!

My immediate and, I like to think, logical response to the news that the global financial world was going to hell in a handbasket and I would very shortly be left without enough superannuation to buy me a can of baby food for my toothless gums, much less life tenure of a nice lavender-walled room in some erstwhile stately home, was to go into a bookshop and come out over $200 lighter, something I have not done for over twelve years.

Here is what I bought:

The new Val McDermid, A Darker Domain.
The new Kathy Reichs, Devil Bones.
The new Robert Drewe, The Rip: can it be true that short stories are making a comeback?
Irene Nemirovsky's Suite Française, which I bought as a gift for a friend when it first came out but have not yet read myself.
Susan Wyndham's Life In His Hands, subtitled 'The true story of a neurosurgeon and a pianist', which I plan to read in tandem with Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia, a gift from the friend to whom I gave Suite Française.
The new Robert Dessaix, Arabesques, which is the most beautiful Australian book I've seen since Gay Bilson's Plenty and possibly more beautiful even than that.

And, finally, a book of the kind I can't resist, called Show Me How: 500 Things You Should Know, which contains simple instructions, with illustrations, on how to do stuff.

Much of this stuff is things that I can in fact already do (wrap up an elegant bouquet, make guacamole, give myself a perfect manicure, rim a glass with sugar or salt, stop bleeding, find my perfect zodiac love match, swim backstroke) as well as many things I would never in a million years want to learn to do (tie a cherry stem in my mouth, flirt with emoticons, craft a plastic-bag throw rug, lasso a calf, fire-roast a tarantula or prepare Tibetan yak-butter tea).

But there are many more that I can't do and would dearly love to be able to: perform CPR, deliver a baby in a taxi, meditate for inner peace, combat jet lag, jump-start a car and dance a steamy tango.

It's much, much too late to have a memorable first kiss, and anyway, I did.

But here's the one, Item #298 of 500, that made me think I really had to buy this book: How to Clip a Cat's Claws. I only read the instructions when I got home. Step #1, and I kid you not, complete with illustration, reads 'Start with a relaxed cat.'



Nabakov said...

However, you have not yet acquired Milorad Pavic's "Dictionary Of The Khazars" (in either the Female or Male editions) or anything by Henry Green have you?

Really he says, dropping his (first edition hardback) copy of 'Biggles Flies Again onto his lap and another three inches of Talisker down his gullet, you kids just don't know anything about great literature these days, do you?

I will now don bedsocks and retire for the night with Kenneth Graham's Dream Days.

Now those were the days where you could trust a Central Banker to come up with nothing more startling than Mr Toad buying a Gipsy caravan.

Kathleen said...

Hmm, I would like to know how to clip Scout's claws. They are so ridiculously long that she can't sneak up on us on the wooden floors: click, click, click. She's like the dog in high heels in "Bowfinger."

The cherry stem trick was all the rage when I was about 21. All I ever learnt from trying this was that it is possible to get a cramp in your tongue.

Anonymous said...

How to clip baby nails usually starts with "wait til your baby is asleep", but doesn't ever say how you're supposed to clip their nails without waking them. So we tended to go with the two parent option: one to hold 'im still and one to do the clipping.

I always do the clipping since the Bloke cut the kid's finger the one and only time he tried to cut the nail and has refused to try again.

A book splurge every decade or so is probably not going to make too big a difference to your super. Apparently a chap on the telly yesterday said that it was good right now to be debt-free, which made the Bloke feel better til he considered that we are also asset-free and almost income-free.

Mindy said...

I have resorted to the clipping nails when Miss Two is asleep as hubby is too kind hearted to hold screaming and wailing child. You make sure they are deeply asleep, gently lift the hand or foot only the barest few cms and clip swiftly but carefully. Probably wouldn't work on really small babies who wake up whenever they move, but really tired toddlers don't notice a thing.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

I've never been able to get to like Kathy Reichs and the tv show Bones is dreadful.

The book by Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself, is a necessary companion to Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia.

Bernice said...

Guide to clipping cat claws

1. Place cat inside cat box.

2. Place cat box inside car.

3. Drive to nearest Veterinarian clinic.

lucy tartan said...

I was complacently looking at my bookshelf the other day thinking that these books will be really useful when there is no more electricity. I mentioned this to Alexis and she appeared to think I meant they'd make good kindling.

Nabs I got a genuine first edition of BFA from Savers last week for twelve dollars.

Penthe said...

You need to have plenty of books saved up for your retirement, when your superannuation income will allow only for breathing and the occasional purchase of kibble for dinner. If you don't have a substantial stack of unread books by then, you're in serious trouble.

I've been saving (books) for my retirement since I was 18. But my money for retirement is looking sparse.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Nabs, it's true, I haven't. The Talisker would go down a treat though. And as for Mr Toad, yes, horrid little carts -- common carts -- canary-coloured carts. Etc.

FXH, I do believe we've had this conversation before. I like Bones -- the heroine's Aspergerish tendencies are touching and entertaining and the hero is hawt; I also like the icky stuff, and the increasingly ensemble feel that show has.

Bernice, at my house your item #1 has a degree of difficulty of 3.9. It's almost easier to do it myself. The annual trip for their shots (plus claw clip, but annual is of course not enough, and the utter indignity of the feline rectal thermometer) inevitably leads to me having a nice lie down when we get home. Which doesn't matter, because at that point they are not speaking to me.

Ms Tartan and Penthe, I too am amassing an impressive stack of reading for my dotage. If we all shipped our books and ourselves to Far North Qld we wouldn't need kindling, either.

M-H said...

There's a new McDermid? Cool. The interwebs is full of useful info.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I think the new Val has been out for a while -- reading four novels a week for work has put me a bit behind play-wise. It's called A Darker Domain. NB it doesn't seem to be a Tony Hill, but the most recent telly series has got me well over Tony Hill in any case. This one stars someone called DI Karen Pirie and part of the plot is set during the UK miners' strike -- which I think McDermid was covering as a journo at the time and if so would know very well. Promising.

Suze said...

I'm too nervous to look at my super level.
'Suite Francaise' was very very powerful, I felt, as much for being the document that it is as for the writing (but I thought the writing was good as well.)

lucy tartan said...

the utter indignity of the feline rectal thermometer

Embarrassingly, one of the cats here purrs contentedly when the vet takes his temperature.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

N.B. they would make good kindling, it's true. Were I not concerned about the carbon emissions (and being run down by a herd of rampaging bibliophiles) I'd suggest book-based smoke signaling as the telecommunications solution of the near future.

TimT said...

Suggestions for book burning:

Avoid steamy literature.

Some books tend to put a dampener on the whole affair, and should be avoided.

Some critics tend to get fired up easily, but they may not last the distance.

As we all know from American disaster movies, it's always the last remaining copy of the Gutenberg Bible to go first. So try not to keep the last remaining copy of the Gutenberg Bible in your house, mmmkay?

For God's sake, make sure you're in the right paradigm before you begin!

Oh yeah, and you probably might give your light switch a check just in case. You'd feel like a real doofus if you commenced book burning and electricity had come back to the world, wouldn't you?

Ampersand Duck said...

I am a long-time cat claw clipper (say that a few times fast), especially in summer when I dislike my knees looking like I have a bad case of shingles or something. My knees are pudgy, and tend to be treated like pincushions.

It's not that hard. I use those fold-up adult nail clippers. You take the paw, give each toe a gentle squeeze in turn, clipping about 2mm of the tip of the claw off. It's just like fingernails but more tubular (man). And they sharpen them again REALLY fast (and seem to enjoy the process), so it's not like you're permanently marring them or anything.

I find the best time to do it is when you are watching tv, and they are reasonably relaxed (or at least still). It helps that I tend to fiddle with the cats' toes anyway when we're sitting, because I like the little soft bits between their toes, and so they are pretty comfortable with me playing with their claws.

Um, that was too much information, wasn't it?

dogpossum said...

1. I love the telly show Bones. But I also went through a big Smallsville stage and am now watching Dawson's Creek, beginning to end, for the first time.

2. The complete lack of italics for newspaper titles in all my students' essays has made me insane. I apologise for previous TV show un-italicisedness.

3. - second and first hand books from the Interwebs with SUPER CHEAP postage. Also, charity, etc happening.

4. I went to Gleebooks' kiddies' shop the other day and chose Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea quartet omnibus (don't you love that that's a word for bus and a word for books-in-one-book? Sweet!) for a friend to buy me as a thankyou gift. I am reading it on the bus, and it's so AWESOME. It's as awesome as I remember from my last reading (first year uni, mid-mega-women's studies major). I keep running into people who see me reading it and say "I loved Dispossessed/Left Hand of Darkness/Wizard of Earthsea/whatever when I was an undergraduate badass feminist." I like it that the implication is that LeGuin's fully sick lefty prose makes you a badass, fully sick Sistah.

I have decided only to read YA books from now on. That's where all the not-lots-of-sex neo scifant is hiding these days. I've had enough of the sexy Mills and Boon genre-bending SF books. I just want YA books with vampires and magic and shit. YEAH!

5. I got nothing else.

ThirdCat said...

a propos of lucy tartan's response above, the vet told us that purring is sometimes a stress-response - to such stressful situations as injections and thermometers up the bum

Anonymous said...

Mindy: it doesn't work if the kid is all wrapped up, shod, or inclined to sleep in stupid positions where any movement means banging against the side of the cot.

I have had sucess with clipping nails of the sleeping toddler in the car. One needs to remember to keep the kid barefoot before the drive though, and to take the clippers.

I give no guarantee that this would work with a kitty.

lucy tartan said...

Cats purr when they're stressed? Amazing, I have never noticed that. Maybe they aren't stressed enough at home to demonstrate. A vet would know, though, I guess.

Ampersand Duck said...

I firmly believe that cats purr when they're stressed as well as when they're happy. Have you ever seen a child laugh in a very brittle and hyper way when they know they're in really big trouble? Same deal.

lauredhel said...

"Have you ever seen a child laugh in a very brittle and hyper way when they know they're in really big trouble?"

I've seen adults do it, too, when in great pain or when scared. And I've seen other adults use it as "evidence" that the victim of their threatening sexual harassment "got the joke" and "was loving it". Bleagh.