Saturday, July 25, 2015

Library & Prey

My recent read.

Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles does give a good overview of the history of libraries cross centuries and cultures.

You will learn many different perspectives on the power of books and words. It includes discussions of attacks on books and libraries, including the notorious story of the Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang who burned all books and scholars in order to establish his dynasty as the beginning of Chinese history, the attacks of the Spanish on Aztec storehouses of knowledge, the Nazi book-burnings, and the Serbian destruction of a cast Bosnian library.  You will also learn there was such a Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt where thousands of ancient documents were discovered in a "book tomb",  the foundations of the British Library and Houghton Library at Harvard, and explore the way that cataloging went from a means to improve popular access to books to an arcane obsession of the experts.

Following is an excerpt under chapter 5 - Book for All :

It was to be the year of his triumph, and yet for Enoch Soames 1891 proved more dreadful than ever.  His new work unpublished, his first books out of print, Enoch peered out through an absinthe haze at a London reeling with backstabbers, tin ears, and nincompoops.  Sensible of his friends' dismissal of his work and person, he had arrived at the inescapable conclusion that the present world held no more charm for him. His hopes lay in the future: there, he was sure, his name would loom as one of the nineteenth century's poetic prophets, rightfully eclipsing the meager lights of contemporary poseurs. In his hunger for this future, finally, he made a desperate pact, a deal with the devil: an eternity in hell for the opportunity to visit the Round Reading Room of the Britist Library one hundred years later, to find his books in the collection, his name draped in laurels. To seal the contract, he invited the devil himself to lunch at a London café, and brought along a witness--his last friend, a newspaper writer and essayist named Max.

The journalist jumped to his friend's defense. But before he could argue the case with the devil himself (less a horned imp than an oiled and weary flâneur), his friend Soames disappeared without so much as a whiff of brimstone. The journalist awaited his friend's return, dreading the results of his expedition into the future. When Soames at last reappeared, dismayed and demoralized, the journalist knew the truth before it was uttered: Soames had failed to find his name among the authors listed in the 1991 edition of the Catalogue of the British Library.  Worse still, in desperation, Soames had asked the library assistant for a copy of a good book on English literature of the nineteenth century. He managed to find his name in the index--a momentory pleasure--only to discover upon turning to the page that he was listed as a minor character in a short story written by his friend the journalist! Chagrined, the writer comforted his friend, but only for a short while--in a flash the devil sidled up to the café table to claim Soames's soul.

So goes the sorry tale of Enoch Soames as told by Max Beerbohm in Seven Men, his collection of short stories. Interesting.

Started reading Field of Prey by John Sandford afterwards. Shouldn't have picked it up an hour before I intend to go to sleep, and damn it ...... I simply kept turning the pages, eager to know what will happen next, not willing to put it down till the wee hour of 4.00am,  and finished it within 3 nights straight.  Gosh!  It is a page-turner indeed.

A serial killer has been using an old well in a remote field to dump the bodies of women he has abducted over the years and when it’s discovered the police find body parts from over 20 corpses. The media hysteria is instant and rabid over what they dub The Black Hole Murders so the political pressure being put on the police and politicians is enormous. As usual when Minnesota cops have a crime that will get people fired, they put it to their head rat catcher, Lucas Davenport.

The reader already knows fairly quickly who is responsible for these murders and it becomes a question of how many more victims will be claimed before Lucas, the BCA and the local authorities can bring him down.

The banter between Lucas and his fellow detectives are funny too.

Worker Bees Vs Manager Bees


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