May. 29th, 2012

tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
So imagine me making that Keanu Reeves whoa face, which basically sums up my feelings regarding experiencing ADSL again for the first time in, oh, a month or so. First there was the two weeks in Japan-- which, while obviously a very wired society, has remarkably inaccessible internet for the casual traveller-- and then there were two weeks in Timor-Leste, where internet speeds have drastically increased since I lived there two years ago (and the number of wireless hotspots has increased from two to four!), but when your baseline is "takes fifteen minutes to load one email, and doesn't work at all when it rains", there's still a long way to go towards customer satisfaction. And then there was the internetless week after moving into our new place. But now we have internet, and a flat in which there are only TWO PEOPLE, and life is looking up.

During those dark, internetless times, though, I managed to read some actual books. I read, and disliked, Dunnett's first Lymond book (sorry, [ profile] freece!). Unsympathetic person that I am, I spent most of the time wishing that Lymond would just get over his goddamned manpain already. On the other hand, I'm now on Book 4 of Dunnett's House of Niccolò series, which I'm greatly enjoying despite some discomfort at the Orientalism and depictions of 15th century colonialism. Nicholas's competence, scheming, and restrained manpain (which fuels all his victories as well as his terrible mistakes), is just my cup of tea. I'm interested in comparing him to Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell (by all accounts another ridiculously competent but ultimately fallible character), so I've got Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies in the queue for when I run out of Dunnett.

Recently, I've also loved Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, perhaps better known on the internet as Sugar. I know there are people who can't stand her, but I love her unflinching honesty, her understanding of grief, and most of all: her seemingly boundless compassion. The internet can be such a bitter, cynical place that I've come to treasure her compassion and generosity in extending a human connection to the people who need it most. Her columns are wise and humane and hurt and hopeful, and sometimes I just sit there and read a string of them and sob. (Some of my favourite Sugar columns are: How You Get Unstuck, We Are All Savages Inside, The Baby Bird [warning for sexual assault of a minor], and Write Like a Motherfucker.) I think reading Wild is a particularly touching experience if you know, through her column, Sugar's older, infinitely understanding self. Wild is a young woman's raw howl of hurt and grief and betrayal, and even as you see her take steps towards her future self, you can't help but know how much more she has to go before she becomes the Sugar we know. It kind of broke my heart. I wanted to protect her; to tell her it'd be okay in the end. That while suffering isn't for anything, those experiences nevertheless ended up becoming an integral part of a beautiful, admirable, whole, human being. Highly recommended if you're a Sugar fan.

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