My updates

I couldn’t put down the Archipelago Gulag, and I can’t recommend the book enough. After that, I read Solzhenitsyn’s much shorter novelization of similar territory, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It is much too late in my life for me to be discovering these books. If Solzhenitsyn hadn’t risked his life to bring utter horror into the open… we might never have truly found out. Sure, people have told their personal stories about the political imprisonment and unbearable conditions of Soviet prisons in the 1930s-50s. But there was no reporter on the ground, no journalistic voice inside the Siberian work camps. One person might tell of being forced to dig a grave-shaped pit and sit in it for a month with only a few daily ounces of bread and water, that person might even say it was common practice. Regardless, the outside world was in denial. Solzhenitsyn did a detailed analysis, telling the story based on what little data escaped destruction, on laws and their interprtations, on court cases, and on the hundreds of political prisoners he interviewed. Required reading.

I’m through with the current five George R.R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones books and am now patiently waiting for the next two. The first season of the show wasn’t nearly so good as the book, but I will still have to see the second season whenever that’s available (I don’t have TV and I’m not one to steal shows).

It might not seem possible, seeing as Heart of Darkness is less than 100 pages long, but I’m in the middle of Heart of Darkness. For some reason, while some passages are pure art on par with Kipling, I have to have complete concentration to get through it. There’s no difficulty to the reading, but if I read with anything else going on, I find myself focusing on language and unique turns of phrasing. It doesn’t help that I’m also somewhere in the middle of four or five other books.

I’m reading Brothers Karamosov, which would be the first Dostoevsky book I’ll complete if I make it through. I read anything by Tolstoy, Gogol, Turgenev, Chekov, Lermontov, Goncharov… but Dostoevsky just hasn’t captured my attention until now. So far, I enjoy the imperfect narrator’s storytelling style. I think I’ll like this one.

For the past few years there’s been at least one Asimov book in the cycle. I’ll finally get to finish The Atom–I had lost it for a while, just found it. I just started The Currents of Space, which is a much earlier pure sci-fi book.

And, because these books were not around while I was on the bus, I’m re-reading one of my favorites: Benoit Mandelbrot’s The (Mis)Behavior of Markets.

All of this is, of course, terribly unimportant to anyone but me. Anyway.

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