a face like a glass of water

Wednesday reading — cabbages and kings

What I've been reading

I read The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel by Robert Alter. I really enjoy his approach to the translation, which is focused on mimicking style as well as substance as closely as possible, as well as the commentary, which has a lot of literary analysis. I mean, I'm not qualified to assess the translation, but the arguments he makes for his choices sound good. I'd previously read his version of Genesis and also really enjoyed it, but I think the David story has more interesting material in it.

I read The Philosopher Kings, the middle book in the Thessaly trilogy. It's not quite as satisfying a story, in itself, as The Just City, after the manner of middle books, and like that book it ends with a straight-up deus ex machina. I mean, if you situate your story in a world where the Greek pantheon is real, I suppose you are entitled to dei ex machina, but still. Actually, I think I will have to read the third book to know how I feel about the ending. I know from Jo Walton's LJ that the third book has Crocus as a POV character, which I think will be a good thing. There wasn't nearly enough exploration of what the self-aware robots are like as people in this book.

I read Magic for Marigold, which was the only L. M. Montgomery novel I'd never read. (I know for a fact that I read Jane of Lantern Hill at least once, even though I remembered it as a completely different book. I know exactly where I was when I read it! I looked at all of the pages.) I had to interlibrary loan it.

The only thing I did know was that a bunch of people hated this book, or hated the ending, or just thought it was really bad. With expectations that low, I ended up rather liking it. It's true that it's much milder than other, similar books by Montgomery—the Lesleys are rather strict and clannish, but they're downright permissive compared to, say, the Murrays; Marigold's best friend may be imaginary but she still has more control over her imagination than Anne does and isn't as desperately cut off from the wider world as Pat is; etc. As for the ending, aside from the weirdly sour note in the very last line, I thought it was really interesting. Marigold makes her first friend who both lives nearby and isn't imaginary, and he's a boy. At first, they're inseparable and play together constantly, and then another boy moves nearby and Budge spends all his time with him at first, but then he realizes that he still wants to be friends with Marigold even if he also has an available friend who is a boy, and not just faute de mieux. But then there's the bit where she thinks, "And I'll always be here for him to come back to," and okay, that is weird and passive and unhealthy-sounding.</spoilers>

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