There’s now a tenth planet. I knew I had heard this on TV some time ago (it has been known since 2003, so it could have been quite a while back) while I napped, and I remember waking up and telling my husband there was a new planet and that they had named it some funny name. It must be the Planet Mongo, straight out of the old serials (as mentioned in the film and novel _Summer of ’42_.)* Hope they don’t name it something really weird with a lot of Ys where there should be Is. (grin)
* My mother reminds me that the planet Mongo is where Flash Gordon is from. So there.
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Oh, Lord. More howlers that I see everywhere that are commonly boo-booed:
“bated” breath (not “bait-ed”–think about it)
“whine” (where did “whinGe” come from??)*
“piqued” your interest (of course it’s not “peaked”! Think!)
“Voila” (not “Wallah” or “Wah-lah” or any number of fo-netic, I mean phonetic, renderings–it’s a French word. There’s an accent grave on the final “a.”)
* I am informed that “whinge” is a Briticism combining “whine” and “cringe.” I’m all for coining new terms where they’re useful, so this one now makes sense. The neologism had not made it into any of my dictionaries when I last looked, so I had been thinking it was a really weird thinko.
Sorry if I stomped your toes, but a writer must know words (connotation as well as denotation, spelling as well as meaning) the way a carpenter knows the tools in his box, or else what’s the use. . . .
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“The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.”–Raymond Chandler
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You wanted me to mention some books that I think are perfect, near-perfect, or at least worthy of your careful attention?
* To Kill a Mockingbird (the first four chapters rock, as does the rest of the book–and the opening line and closing line tie together.)
* Cat’s Cradle (Vonnegut isn’t putting down organized religion, despite what high school study guides may claim–it’s more complex than that)
* Bellwether, Connie Willis (you’ll FLIP for this one–it’s no FAD–and it’s FUNNY through and through)
* Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner (read the originals, not the condensed or the Disney version)
* Peter Pan (ditto)
* The Secret History (one of my favorite books, although the story is “framed” by the device of recollection, which is out of style now, but who cares–it reminds me of Gatsby, which it was supposed to, and of TKaM, which it wasn’t supposed to do, but Henry Winter (brrr) is quite the anti-Atticus Finch, and the moral compass of this story, Julian, is quite lacking so far as being a compass, spinning away)
* A Clockwork Orange (note the neat Russian-type slang and enjoy the violence–it’s just like anime *grin*)
* 1984 (Yes, really. It’s not dated. You do need to let it absorb you, but it has lessons to teach that I wish the current world politicos would learn. Just trust me on this.)
* Trust Me On This, Donald E. Westlake (yes, some of it is a bit coy or twee or whatever you want to call it, but it’s still one of mine and Harlan Ellison’s favorite novels, and that is saying a LOT)
* The Great Gatsby (yes, I really want you to read it, and don’t study it, but do study it)
* The Grapes of Wrath (if you can read it like a book and not be looking for J. C. and symbolism and non-teleological thinking)
* Travels with Charley (after TGoW, you’ll need this relief, and I think Steinbeck will charm you)
* The Egypt Game, Zilpha Keatley Snyder (xoxox, still charmed me on a re-read the other day)
* Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E. L. Konigsburg (I recently re-read this and found that I enjoyed it just as much this time, from the perspective of a grown-up, as I did in the fourth grade when I went gaga over it–fairy dust)
* The Book of Three, Lloyd Alexander (I intend to re-read this one soon–it’s FUNNY. And if you love Potter, just give it a chance)
–and if you love fantasy,
* A Bad Spell in Yurt, C. Dale Brittain (funny and different from most series fantasy)
* Tam Lin, Pamela Dean (and this one is like Secret History in that it is also somewhat about a Classics group and their mystical attraction, PLUS it’s based on a famous old Irish legend or story or whatever it is, maybe a song, IIRC)
* Harriet the Spy (the book, not the movie–yet it does have some flaws, especially in last 1/4th and the ending, I think)
* A Separate Peace (it’s like Secret History in a sense, like other boarding school stories in a sense–tore my heart out and I wrote at length about it during my AP English exam, on which I received a 5, highest mark possible, tying it to “Hamlet” and the poem “Birches” by Robert Frost, if I recall correctly)
* The Catcher in the Rye (try to approach it as though you haven’t been told about it all your life)
* The Broom of the System, David Foster Wallace (it’s digressive and funny and doesn’t have a tied-together plot to speak of, so it’s rather literary, but it has endured, unlike the other brat-packer novels which haven’t endured so well. The ending is NOT MY FAULT. It probably embarrasses the author of Infinite Jest now. But if you don’t get it, write to me and I’ll give you my take on it.)
* Carrie Pilby (the first Smart Chick Lit novel and the only one that I think will really hang around in any sense)
* Shine Hawk by Charlie Smith (okay, you don’t have to read Shine Hawk because it might make you crazy, but if you like Faulkner, you may like this, and you could even fall in love with the prose)
* Marjorie Morningstar, Herman Wouk (if you would like to see some long sentences and some eloquent prose up close . . . the story’s pretty good, too)
* The Door Into Summer, Robert A. Heinlein (but do be ready for a genre read)
* Casting Fortune, John M. Ford (actually short stories tied together, and it’s about the theater, and about magic!)
* Ubik, Philip K. Dick (this one has some interesting ideas, as do all of Dick’s novels. You could probably start anywhere in his oeuvre and end up just as confused. You should also read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? if you have seen Blade Runner, because the book emphasizes different things and is even more profound than the film.)
. . . and if you haven’t read the Outsiders, you might still be able to enjoy it, but it could be one of those books that only speaks to children of the ’70s. S. E. Hinton has published a new book, but I’ve been reluctant to pick it up for fear it breaks the magic blue glow that her name is suffused in.
There are more.