Ex Libris Kirkland

Ex Libris Kirkland is my entirely self-centered way to keep track of what I read, what I like, and what I want to remember.

Recently Quoted

  • A bandy-legged officer with bristling moustaches, wearing a general's oak leaves on his cap, had stopped there to telephone on his way up to see the King of the Belgians. "Foch speaking," he had said. At one time or another most of the higher officers of the allied armies had stayed there. Joffre had dined there, silently but with gusto, and then had gone to bed and slept undisturbed by any nightmares of Verdun. Haig had sat his charger at the lodge gates and had taken the salute of Canadian regiments on the way up to the Passchendaele butchery.

    an excerpt from Paths of Glory, written by Humphrey Cobb in 1935

  • Retrospective reasons were normal by-products of the general's decisions, and he always accepted them as additional tributes to his sagacity without ever recognizing their spuriousness as such.

    an excerpt from Paths of Glory, written by Humphrey Cobb in 1935

  • Our vision of text as unbodied betrays us, and the mistake is remarkably modern. People were much more likeir to sound out words as they read a couple of hundred yeas ago, to learn things by heart. Words existed in lips and lungs and palates and breath as much as they existed in text. The young Florence Nightingale, furious in trapped rebellion as she searched for a way to pursue her nursing vocation, experienced someone reading aloud to her as assault:

    What is it to be read aloud to? . .. It is like lying on one's back, with one's hands tied and having liquid poured down one's throat. Worse than that, because suffocation would immediately ensue and put a stop to the operation. But nothing would stop the other.

    It's a particularly striking image - reading as waterboard-ing - a precursor too of the force-feeding that suffragettes would experience a little more than half a century later. That was how powerful the spoken word was to her. Words spoken aloud, in time and space and company, make things happen.

    an excerpt from Holiness and Desire, written by Jessica Martin in 2020

Recently Noted

  • This does have the same Leckie concerns with gender identity and invented pronouns. It does seem a little... much? after five or six books? but I think she does it deftly and the invented pronouns aren't very distracting to me after the first 50 pages or so.

    an note about Translation State, written by Ann Leckie in 2023

  • The opening chapter on the character Qven covers adolescence, and there's a really funny recap of their education. The thinly veiled comparisons to American middle and high school cracked me up.

    an note about Translation State, written by Ann Leckie in 2023

  • This one is a kind of scifi mystery novel, again set on the edges of the Radch, and dealing with a different corner. Three separate stories that intertwine, and then turn into the same kind of rapidly-plotted space adventure that we had in Provenance.

    Previous experience with the Ancillaries and Radch and Geck and Presger not really required, but helpful to remember the outlines of the politics at play. It made me realize how much I wanted to know about the other alien races, and this one gets into some more details on the Presger. Or at least the Presger Translators.

    an note about Translation State, written by Ann Leckie in 2023

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Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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