Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Weekend Report

Autumn has arrived and with it my usual restlessness. I found it hard to focus during my long Labor Day weekend, and just sort of bummed around. I started to read several different books but couldn't get into any of them. I finally ended up re-reading Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, which I enjoyed much more on the second read, primarily because I've read so many of the 17th century Gothic novels now that are referenced or parodied in the book. It does make a difference. Enjoyment of a clever parody pretty much depends on a knowledge of the material being parodied. First time through I didn't get half the jokes.
I also read King Gautrek, one of the Norse sagas from the Penguin edition of Seven Viking Romances. Not romance in the modern sense, as in love stories, but the old meaning of romance, full of excitement, adventure, wonders, etc. I tell you, George R.R. Martin has nothing on the Vikings. Their games of thrones are so bloody that they make Martin look tame in comparison. It's funny, but the Sagas are something that probably would have bored me senseless as a kid, but I Love reading the things now. Of course I'm the same way about history in general. Stuff you couldn't have paid me to read in school just fascinates me now.
And that led to me re-reading Robert E. Howard's Cormac Mac Art short story, Swords of the Northern Sea, which is full of Viking battles and mile a minute action as only REH could write it. Stephen King once said that sparks almost seemed to fly from Howard's prose when he was on, and boy that's the case for this one. Cormac and his Norse pal Wulfhere Skull-splitter fight a running battle against a vastly superior force of men and Howard milks it for every bloody thing that it's worth. Seriously, if you haven't read this one, track it down.
I also read through the Jimmy Olsen stories in Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus volumes 1 and 2. I was just in the mood for some Kirby and those remain some of my favorites.
So I guess I did more focused reading than I thought over the weekend. But I'm still restless.

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